Articles | Volume 13, issue 7
Clim. Past, 13, 897–917, 2017
Clim. Past, 13, 897–917, 2017

Research article 18 Jul 2017

Research article | 18 Jul 2017

Periodic input of dust over the Eastern Carpathians during the Holocene linked with Saharan desertification and human impact

Jack Longman1, Daniel Veres2, Vasile Ersek1, Ulrich Salzmann1, Katalin Hubay3, Marc Bormann4, Volker Wennrich5, and Frank Schäbitz4 Jack Longman et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Northumbria University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK
  • 2Romanian Academy, Institute of Speleology, Clinicilor 5, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • 3Hungarian Academy of Science – Institute for Nuclear Research, Hertelendi Laboratory of Environmental Studies, Bem tér 18/C, 4026 Debrecen, Hungary
  • 4Institute of Geography Education, University of Cologne, 50931 Cologne, Germany
  • 5Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Cologne, 50674 Cologne, Germany

Abstract. Reconstructions of dust flux have been used to produce valuable global records of changes in atmospheric circulation and aridity. These studies have highlighted the importance of atmospheric dust in marine and terrestrial biogeochemistry and nutrient cycling. By investigating a 10 800-year-long paleoclimate archive from the Eastern Carpathians (Romania) we present the first peat record of changing dust deposition over the Holocene for the Carpathian–Balkan region. Using qualitative (X-ray fluorescence (XRF) core scanning) and quantitative inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer(ICP-OES) measurements of lithogenic (K, Si, Ti) elements, we identify 10 periods of major dust deposition between 9500–9200, 8400–8100, 7720–7250, 6350–5950, 5450–5050, 4130–3770, 3450–2850, 2000–1450, 800–620, and 60 cal yr BP to present. In addition, we used testate amoeba assemblages preserved within the peat to infer local palaeohydroclimatic conditions. Our record highlights several discrepancies between eastern and western European dust depositional records and the impact of highly complex hydrological regimes in the Carpathian region. Since 6100 cal yr BP, we find that the geochemical indicators of dust flux have become uncoupled from the local hydrology. This coincides with the appearance of millennial-scale cycles in the dust input and changes in geochemical composition of dust. We suggest that this is indicative of a shift in dust provenance from local–regional (likely loess-related) to distal (Saharan) sources, which coincide with the end of the African Humid Period and the onset of Saharan desertification.

Short summary
We present the first record of dust input into an eastern European bog over the past 10 800 years. We find significant changes in past dust deposition, with large inputs related to both natural and human influences. We show evidence that Saharan desertification has had a significant impact on dust deposition in eastern Europe for the past 6100 years.