Late glacial and Holocene environmental change in the Lake Baikal region documented by oxygen isotopes from diatom silica

Morley, David W.; Leng, Melanie J. ORCID:; Mackay, Anson W.; Sloane, Hilary J.. 2005 Late glacial and Holocene environmental change in the Lake Baikal region documented by oxygen isotopes from diatom silica. Global and Planetary Change, 46 (1-4). 221-233.

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We investigate late glacial and Holocene climate change recorded in Lake Baikal using the oxygen isotope composition of diatom silica (δ18ODIAT). Evaporation from the lake is minor, and the temperature fractionations of δ18O are unable to explain variations in the δ18ODIAT record alone. Isotopically, low meltwater input from glaciers may have some influence on δ18ODIAT, but the assumed periods of climatic warming and wastage do not coincide with large shifts in δ18ODIAT. There is a gradual oxygen isotope lowering from 27.0‰ to 20.6‰ over the late glacial, while, during the Holocene, δ18ODIAT values return to relatively high values. Previous studies of the modern oxygen and hydrogen isotope composition of Lake Baikal's inputs reveal that fluvial input to the lake's North Basin are isotopically lower than fluvial input from South Basin rivers. This north–south gradient of river δ18O and δD is mainly due to the greater input from isotopically low winter precipitation in the north and isotopically higher summer precipitation in the south. As a result, the δ18ODIAT record from Lake Baikal can at least in part be explained by varying input from these sources related to seasonal changes in precipitation. Changes in atmospheric conditions may have a role in altering seasonality and the distribution of precipitation over Lake Baikal's catchment. A feedback mechanism is well known linking higher Eurasian spring snow cover extent (ESSC) to the development of anticyclonic conditions and low precipitation the following summer in the areas south of Lake Baikal. A simultaneous increase in the importance of depleted water (snowmelt) input from the north and decreased enriched summer precipitation in the south is needed to explain depletions in δ18O of lake water and subsequently δ18ODIAT during colder periods. The opposite of this situation is required to enrich lake water during warmer periods. The analysis of δ18O from diatom silica is a useful proxy for environmental change, especially in lakes, like Lake Baikal, where carbonates are absent or diluted. However, analysis must be based on near pure diatom samples as even trace amounts of silt can have a dominating effect on δ18ODIAT values.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes > NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory
Date made live: 08 Jun 2012 14:57 +0 (UTC)

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