Late-Holocene moisture balance inferred from diatom and lake sediment records in western Mongolia

Avery L.C. Shinneman, Charles E. Umbanhowar, Mark B. Edlund, N. Soninkhishig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The Valley of the Great Lakes in western Mongolia is a unique ecosystem comprising a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Relatively little is known about the long-term climate history of the area or the relative impact of changes in climate and land use in the region. Tree-ring records have established an understanding of regional temperature fluctuations; however, the few records of moisture balance from Mongolia offer little insight into potential changes in the precipitation-to-evaporation balance in the region with warming temperatures. Modern and paleoclimatic records from across arid Central Asia show substantial temporal and spatial variability in the correlation between temperature and moisture availability and climate models are inconsistent in predictions for future changes with continued warming. In order to refine the understanding of moisture balance in the region, we developed six diatom-inferred records of lake salinity between 200 and 2000 years in length, demonstrating a negative correlation between temperature and effective moisture (warm-dry and cool-wet conditions) over most of this time period. In addition to climate warming, Mongolian grasslands have seen substantial human impacts over the last several decades. Recent core records show evidence of eutrophication and must be interpreted carefully to understand the individual and combined impacts of climate and land use on sedimentary records and the potential for human-environment interactions to confound inferences about climate changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Diatom-inferred salinity
  • Drought
  • Human-climate interactions
  • Moisture balance
  • Mongolia

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