Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
Research article
03 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 03 Jul 2013

Modeling dust emission response to North Atlantic millennial-scale climate variations from the perspective of East European MIS 3 loess deposits

A. Sima, M. Kageyama, D.-D. Rousseau, G. Ramstein, Y. Balkanski, P. Antoine, and C. Hatté

Abstract. European loess sequences of the Marine Isotope Stage 3 (~60–25 kyr BP) show periods of strong dust accumulation alternating with episodes of reduced sedimentation, favoring soil development. In the western part of the loess belt centered around 50° N, these variations appear to have been related to the North Atlantic rapid climate changes: the Dansgaard–Oeschger (DO) and Heinrich (H) events. It has been recently suggested that the North Atlantic climate signal can be detected further east, in loess deposits from Stayky (50°05.65' N, 30°53.92' E), Ukraine. Here we use climate and dust emission modeling to investigate this data interpretation. We focus on the areas north and northeast of the Carpathians, where loess deposits can be found, and the corresponding main dust sources must have been located as well. The simulations were performed with the LMDZ atmospheric general circulation model and the ORCHIDEE land surface model. They represent a reference "Greenland stadial" state and two perturbations, seen as sensitivity tests with respect to changes in the North Atlantic surface conditions between 30° and 63° N: a "Greenland interstadial" and an "H event". The main source for the loess deposits in the studied area is identified as a dust deflation band, with two very active spots located west-northwest from our reference site. Emissions only occur between February and June. Differences from one deflation spot to another, and from one climate state to another, are explained by analyzing the relevant meteorological and surface variables. Over most of the source region, the annual emission fluxes in the "interstadial" experiment are 30 to 50% lower than the "stadial" values; they would only be about 20% lower if the inhibition of dust uplift by the vegetation were not taken into account. Assuming that lower emissions result in reduced dust deposition leads us to the conclusion that the loess–paleosol stratigraphic succession in the Stayky area reflects indeed North Atlantic millennial variations. In the main deflation areas of Western Europe, the vegetation effect alone determined most of the (~50% on average) stadial–interstadial flux differences. Even if its impact in Eastern Europe is less pronounced, this effect remains a key factor in modulating aeolian emissions at the millennial timescale. Conditions favorable to initiating particularly strong dust storms within a few hundred kilometers upwind from our reference site, simulated in the month of April of the H event experiment, support the correlation of H events with peaks in grain size index in some very detailed loess profiles, indicating increased coarse sedimentation.