Abrupt Freshening Since the Early Little Ice Age in Lake Sayram of Arid Central Asia Inferred From an Alkenone Isomer Proxy

Yuan Yao, Jianghu Lan, Jiaju Zhao, Richard S. Vachula, Hai Xu, Yanjun Cai, Hai Cheng, Yongsong Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hydroclimatic variations of arid central Asia (ACA) significantly impact regional ecosystems and human civilizations. Here we present a lake water salinity record of the last 3,000 years from Lake Sayram in the core area of ACA using a new alkenone isomer-based RIK37 index. Our record shows an abrupt decrease in salinity by more than 5‰ since the “early” Little Ice Age (LIA) (about CE 1150), which can be attributed to the combined effect of regional wetting, cooling, and topographic features. Combined with other moisture records in the region, we find two periods of relatively wet conditions during CE 1150–1550 and 1850 to present, which may be linked to Arctic sea ice expansion due to natural variability and, from CE 1950, anthropogenically induced warming. The wet conditions during CE 1206–1260 may have favored the spread of the Mongol Empire across the entire core area of ACA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL089257
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume47
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 28 2020

Keywords

  • alkenone isomer
  • arid central Asia
  • early Little Ice Age
  • Group I Isochrysidales
  • salinity
  • westerly

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