Climatic variability during the last interglacial inferred from geochemical proxies in the Lake El'gygytgyn sediment record

Laura Cunningham, Hendrik Vogel, Norbert Nowaczyk, Volker Wennrich, Olaf Juschus, Per Persson, Peter Rosén

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8 Scopus citations


The Last Interglacial Period (LIP) is often regarded as a good analogue for potential climatic conditions under predicted global warming scenarios. Despite this, there is still debate over the nature, duration and frequency of climatic changes during this period. One particularly contentious issue has been the apparent evidence of climatic instability identified in many marine cores but seemingly lacking from many terrestrial archives, especially within the Arctic, a key region for global climate change research. In this paper, geochemical records from Lake El'gygytgyn, north-eastern Russia, are used to infer past climatic changes during the LIP from within the high Arctic. With a sampling resolution of ~. 20-~. 90. years, these records offer the potential for detailed, high-resolution palaeoclimate reconstruction. This study shows that the LIP commenced in central Chukotka ~. 129. thousand years ago (ka), with the warmest climatic conditions occurring between ~. 128 and 127. ka before being interrupted by a short-lived cold reversal. Mild climatic conditions then persisted until ~. 122. ka when a marked reduction in the sedimentation rate suggests a decrease in precipitation. A further climatic deterioration at ~. 118. ka marks the return to glacial conditions. This study highlights the value of incorporating several geochemical proxies when inferring past climatic conditions, thus providing the potential to identify signals related to environmental change within the catchment. We also demonstrate the importance of considering how changes in sedimentation rate influence proxy records, in order to develop robust palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-414
Number of pages7
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
StatePublished - Sep 5 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the participants on the spring campaign of the Lake El'gygytgyn expedition 2003 for the recovery of the sediment core Lz1024 used in this study. They also gratefully acknowledge the expertise and leadership provided by Martin Melles and Julie Brigham-Grette, without which this project wouldn't have been possible. We would also like to thank Annika Holmgren, Jan Åberg, Carin Olofsson and Thomas Westin for laboratory assistance. Funding was provided by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF ; grant no. 03G0586A, B ), the German Research Foundation (DFG , JU 465/2-1 ), Vetenskapsrådet and FORMAS . This research was also supported by the Climate Impacts Research Centre (Umeå University) who provided salary to Laura Cunningham and Peter Rosén.

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Climate change
  • Far-eastern Arctic Russia
  • Glacial termination
  • Last interglacial period
  • Palaeolimnology
  • Primary productivity


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