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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-136
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-136
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 Oct 2018

Research article | 16 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

A Holocene black carbon ice-core record of biomass burning in the Amazon Basin from Illimani, Bolivia

Dimitri Osmont1,2,3, Michael Sigl1,2, Anja Eichler1,2, Theo M. Jenk1,2, and Margit Schwikowski1,2,3 Dimitri Osmont et al.
  • 1Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institut, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
  • 2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland

Abstract. The Amazon Basin is one of the major contributors to global biomass burning emissions. However, regional paleofire trends remain partially unknown. Due to their proximity to the Amazon Basin, Andean ice cores are suitable to reconstruct paleofire trends in South America and improve our understanding of the complex linkages between fires, climate and humans. Here we present the first refractory black carbon (rBC) ice-core record from the Andes as a proxy for biomass burning emissions in the Amazon Basin, derived from an ice core drilled at 6300ma.s.l. from Illimani glacier in the Bolivian Andes and spanning the entire Holocene back to the last deglaciation 13000 years ago. The Illimani rBC record displays a strong seasonality with low values during the wet season and high values during the dry season due to the combination of enhanced biomass burning emissions in the Amazon Basin and less precipitation at the Illimani site. Significant positive (negative) correlations were found with reanalyzed temperature (precipitation) data, respectively, for regions in Eastern Bolivia and Western Brazil characterized by a substantial fire activity. rBC long-term trends indirectly reflect regional climatic variations through changing biomass burning emissions as they show higher (lower) concentrations during warm/dry (cold/wet) periods, respectively, in line with climate variations such as the Younger Dryas, the 8.2ka event, the Holocene Climatic Optimum, the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age. The highest rBC concentrations of the entire record occurred during the Holocene Climatic Optimum between 7000 and 3000BC, suggesting that this outstanding warm and dry period caused an exceptional biomass burning activity, unprecedented in the context of the past 13000 years. Recent rBC levels, rising since 1730 AD in the context of increasing temperatures and deforestation, are similar to those of the Medieval Warm Period. No decrease was observed in the 20th century, in contradiction with the global picture (broken fire hockey stick hypothesis).

Dimitri Osmont et al.
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We present the first black carbon ice-core record from the Andes (Illimani, Bolivia), spanning the entire Holocene and reflecting biomass burning emissions from the Amazon Basin, with high (low) concentrations during warm/dry (wet/cold) periods. The highest fire activity occurred during the Holocene Climatic Optimum (7000–3000 BC). Recent black carbon concentrations, increasing since 1730 AD, do not exceed those of the Medieval Warm Period and do not seem related to industrial emissions.
We present the first black carbon ice-core record from the Andes (Illimani, Bolivia), spanning...
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