Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
Research article
30 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 30 Oct 2013

Biological proxies recorded in a Belukha ice core, Russian Altai

T. Papina, T. Blyakharchuk, A. Eichler, N. Malygina, E. Mitrofanova, and M. Schwikowski

Abstract. Different biological proxies such as pollen, cysts, and diatoms were identified and quantified in the upper part of a Belukha ice core from the Russian Altai. The ice core from the Belukha glacier collected in 2001 (4062 m a.s.l., 49°48' N, 86°34' E) was analyzed with annual resolution in the period 1964–2000. Daily data of the frequency of synoptic patterns observed in the Northern Hemisphere along with daily data of precipitation have been used to identify the predominant atmospheric circulations (elementary circulating mechanisms, or ECMs) generating the entry of biological proxies on the glacier surface. It was shown that the high-resolution records of diatoms, cysts, spores, and plant pollen in the Belukha ice core are the biological proxies for the changes in the structure of precipitation in the Altai region since these records can reflect changes in the contribution of different atmospheric circulation to annual or seasonal precipitation. The joint consideration of the transport ability of the biological species and the data of precipitation allowed us to determine the main modern sources of biological proxies deposited at the Belukha glacier. The main sources of diatoms in the Belukha ice core are water bodies of the Aral, Caspian, and northern Kazakhstan basins; coniferous tree pollen originated from the taiga forest of the boreal zone of western Siberia; pollen of deciduous trees and herbs from steppe and forest-steppe vegetation in the northern Altai and eastern Kazakhstan; and cysts and spores of plants were transported from local water bodies and forests. The identified source regions of the biological species are supported by back trajectory analyses and are in good agreement with emission source regions of the trace elements in the ice core.