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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 02 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 02 Sep 2019

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

Relationships between low-temperature fires, climate and vegetation during the last 430 kyrs in northeastern Siberia reconstructed from monosaccharide anhydridesin Lake El’gygytgyn sediments

Elisabeth Dietze1, Kai Mangelsdorf2, Andrei Andreev1,3, Cornelia Karger2, Laura T. Schreuder4, Ellen C. Hopmans4, Oliver Rach5, Dirk Sachse5, Volker Wennrich6, and Ulrike Herzschuh1,7,8 Elisabeth Dietze et al.
  • 1Polar Terrestrial Environmental Systems, Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Reseach, Research Unit Potsdam, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Organic Geochemistry, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Institute of Geology and Petroleum Technologies, Kazan Federal University, Kremlyovskaya str. 4/5, 420008, Kazan, Russia
  • 4Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and Utrecht University, Texel, the Netherlands
  • 5GFZ, German Research Centre for Geosciences, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Geomorphology, Surface Organic Geochemistry lab, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 6University of Cologne, Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Zülpicher str. 49a, 50674 Cologne, Germany
  • 7Institute of Geosciences, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany
  • 8Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany

Abstract. Landscapes in high northern latitudes are assumed to be highly sensitive to future global change, but the rates and long-term trajectories of changes are rather uncertain. In the boreal zone, fires are an important factor in climate–vegetation–interactions and biogeochemical cycles. Fire regimes are characterized by small, frequent, low-intensity fires within summergreen boreal forests dominated by larch, whereas evergreen boreal forests dominated by spruce and pine burn large areas less frequently, but at higher intensities. Here, we explore the potential of the monosaccharide anhydrides (MA) levoglucosan, mannosan, and galactosan to serve as proxies of low-intensity biomass burning in glacial-to-interglacial lake sediments from the high northern latitudes. We use sediments from Lake El’gygytgyn (cores PG 1351 and ICDP 5011-1), located in the far north-east of Russia, and study glacial and interglacial samples of the last 430 kyrs (marine isotope stages 5e, 6, 7e, 8, 11c, 12) that had different climate and biome configurations. Combined with pollen and non-pollen palynomorph records from the same samples, we assess past relationships between fire, climate, and vegetation on orbital to centennial time scales. We find that MAs were well-preserved in up to 430 kyrs old sediments with higher influxes from low-intensity biomass burning in interglacials compared to glacials. MA influxes significantly increase when summergreen boreal forest spreads closer to the lake, whereas they decrease when tundra-steppe environments and, especially, Sphagnum peatlands spread. This suggests that low-temperature fires are a typical property of Siberian larch forest on long timescales. The results also suggest that low-intensity fires would be reduced by vegetation shifts towards very dry environments due to reduced biomass availability, as well as by shifts towards peatlands, which limits fuel dryness. In addition, we observed very low MA ratios, which we interpret as high contributions of galactosan and mannosan from other than currently monitored biomass sources, such as the moss-lichen mats in the understorey of the summergreen boreal forest. Overall, sedimentary MAs can provide a powerful proxy for fire regime reconstructions and extend our knowledge on long-term fire–climate–vegetation feedbacks in the high northern latitudes.

Elisabeth Dietze et al.
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Elisabeth Dietze et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Long-term climate change impacts on fire, vegetation and permafrost in the Arctic are uncertain. Here, we show the high potential of organic compounds from low-temperature biomass burning to serve as proxies for surface fires in lake deposits. During warm periods of the last 430,000 years, surface fires are closely linked to the larch taiga forest with its moss-lichen ground vegetation that isolates the permafrost. They have reduced in warm-wet, spruce-dominated and cool-dry steppe environments.
Long-term climate change impacts on fire, vegetation and permafrost in the Arctic are uncertain....