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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-2018-142
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-142
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 30 Oct 2018

Research article | 30 Oct 2018

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

Middle and Late Pleistocene climate and continentality inferred from ice wedges at Batagay megaslump in the Northern Hemisphere’s most continental region, Yana Highlands, interior Yakutia

Thomas Opel1,2, Julian B. Murton1, Sebastian Wetterich2, Hanno Meyer2, Kseniia Ashastina3, Frank Günther2, Hendrik Grotheer4, Gesine Mollenhauer4, Petr P. Danilov5, Vasily Boeskorov5, Grigoriy N. Savvinov5, and Lutz Schirrmeister2 Thomas Opel et al.
  • 1Permafrost Laboratory, Department of Geography, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 9RH, UK
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A45, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, Research Station of Quaternary Palaeontology, 99423 Weimar, Germany
  • 4Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 5Science Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North, North-East Federal University, 43 Lenin Avenue, Yakutsk 677007, Russia

Abstract. Ice wedges in the Yana Highlands of interior Yakutia – the most continental region of the Northern Hemisphere – were investigated to elucidate the winter climate and continentality during the Middle to Late Pleistocene. The Batagay megaslump exposes ice wedges and composite wedges that were sampled from three cryostratigraphic units: the lower sand unit of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6 age, the upper Ice Complex (Yedoma) and the upper sand unit (both MIS3 to MIS2). A terrace of the nearby Adycha River provides a Late Holocene (MIS1) ice wedge that serves as a modern endmember for analysis. Stable-isotope values of ice wedges in the MIS3 upper Yedoma Ice Complex at Batagay are more depleted (mean δ18O about −35‰) than those from 17 other ice-wedge sites across coastal and central Yakutia. This observation points to lower winter temperatures and, therefore, higher continentality in the Yana Highlands during MIS3. Likewise, more depleted isotope values compared to other sites in Yakutia are found in Holocene wedge ice (mean δ18O about −29‰). Ice-wedge isotopic signatures of the MIS6 lower sand unit (mean δ18O about −33‰) and of the MIS3-2 upper sand unit (mean δ18O from about −33 to −30‰) are less distinctive regionally and preserve traces of fast formation in rapidly accumulating sand sheets and of post-depositional fractionation.

Thomas Opel et al.
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Thomas Opel et al.
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