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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 05 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 05 Aug 2019

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

Neoglacial trends in diatom dynamics from a small alpine lake in the Qinling Mountains of central China

Bo Cheng1, Jennifer Adams2, Jianhui Chen3, Aifeng Zhou3, Qing Zhang3, and Anson Mackay4 Bo Cheng et al.
  • 1College of Urban and Environmental Science, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 3Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental System (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 4ECRC, Department of Geography, UCL, London WC1E 6BT, UK

Abstract. During the latter stages of the Holocene, and prior to anthropogenic global warming, the Earth underwent a period of cooling called the neoglacial. The neoglacial was associated with declining summer insolation and changes to Earth surface albedo. Although impacts varied globally, in China the neoglacial was generally associated with cooler, more arid climate, which led to renewed permafrost formation, and shifts in vegetation composition. Few studies in central China, however, have explored the impact of neoglacial cooling on freshwater diversity, especially in remote alpine regions. Here we take a palaeolimnological approach to characterise multidecadal variability in diatom community composition, beta-diversity, and flux-inferred productivity over the past 3,500 years in the Qinling Mountains, biodiversity hotspot. We investigate the impact of long-term cooling on primary producers in an alpine lake, which are fundamental to overall aquatic ecosystem function. We show that trends in beta-diversity and shifts in ecological guilds likely reflect changing lake-catchment resource availability, linked to both long-term attenuation of the Asian summer monsoon, and abrupt cool events, linked to a strengthened Siberian High. Important diatom community and productivity responses to the Medieval Climatic Optimum and the Little Ice Age are all apparent in our record, although impact from previous centennial-scale, cool-events are less evident.

Bo Cheng et al.
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Bo Cheng et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The Qinling Mountains in central China is biodiversity-rich. We studied one of the high altitude lakes on Mount Tabai with a view to looking at how aquatic diversity responded to long-term changes in climate over the past 3,500 years. We specifically looked at a group of one-celled algae called diatoms, as they are very sensitive to the environment. We found that these algae, and hence the lake environment, changed gradually over time, in direct response to changing regional and global climate.
The Qinling Mountains in central China is biodiversity-rich. We studied one of the high altitude...