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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-19
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 15 Mar 2018

Research article | 15 Mar 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Fire, vegetation and Holocene climate in the south-eastern Tibetan Plateau: a multi-biomarker reconstruction from Paru Co

Alice Callegaro1,2, Felipe Matsubara Pereira1, Dario Battistel1, Natalie M. Kehrwald3, Broxton W. Bird4, Torben Kirchgeorg1, and Carlo Barbante1,2 Alice Callegaro et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali, Informaticae Statistica, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Venezia, 30172, Italia
  • 2Istituto per la Dinamica dei Processi Ambientali-CNR, Venezia, 30172, Italia
  • 3Geosciences and Environmental Climate Change Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver Federal Center, Lakewood, CO 80225, USA
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, Indiana University – Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN 46208, USA

Abstract. The fire history of the Tibetan Plateau over centennial to millennial timescales is still unknown. Recent ice core studies reconstruct fire history over the past few decades but do not extend through the Holocene. Lacustrine sedimentary cores, however, provide continuous records of large-scale and local environmental modifications due to their accumulation of specific organic molecular markers throughout the past millennia. In order to reconstruct Holocene fire events and vegetation changes occurring on the south-eastern Tibetan Plateau and the surrounding areas, we improved and integrated previous analytical methods. The multi-proxy procedure was applied to samples retrieved from Paru Co, a small lake located in the Nyainqentanglha Mountains (29°47'45.6"N; 92°21'07.2"E; 4845m a.s.l.). The investigated biomarkers include n-alkanes as indicators of vegetation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as combustion proxies, faecal sterols and stanols (FeSts) as indicators of the presence of humans or grazing animals and finally monosaccharide anhydrides (MAs) as specific markers of vegetation burning processes. Relatively high concentrations of both MAs and PAHs demonstrate intense local biomass burning activity during the early Holocene (10.9–10.7calky BP), which correspond to a drier climate following deglaciation. High concentrations of MAs but not PAHs between 10.7–9calky BP suggest a period of regional biomass burning followed by a decreasing fire trend through the mid-late Holocene. This fire history is consistent with local vegetation changes reconstructed from both n-alkanes and regional pollen records, where vegetation types depend on the centennial-scale intensity of monsoon precipitation. FeSts were below detection limits for most of the samples, suggesting limited direct human influences on fire regime and vegetation changes in the lake's catchment. Climate is the main influence on fire activity recorded in Paru Co over millennial timescales, where biomass burning fluctuates in response to alternating warm/humid and cool/dry periods.

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Holocene fires and vegetation are reconstructed using different molecular markers with the same analytical method, applied for the first time to lake sediments from Tibet. High climate-induced fires from 10.9 to 8 cal ky BP and decreasing fire towards the present are detected. Vegetation is characterized by short-term softwood and grasses oscillations, and a long-term trend due to orbital-induced changes. The lack of human indicators excludes local anthropogenic influence on these dynamics.
Holocene fires and vegetation are reconstructed using different molecular markers with the same...
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