28 Jun 2021

28 Jun 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Biomarker Proxy Records of Arctic Climate Change During the Mid-Pleistocene Transition from Lake El’gygytgyn (Far East Russia)

Kurt R. Lindberg1,a, William C. Daniels1, Isla S. Castañeda1, and Julie Brigham-Grette1 Kurt R. Lindberg et al.
  • 1University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, 01003, U.S.A.
  • anow at: University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, 14260, U.S.A.

Abstract. The Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT) is a widely recognized global climate shift occurring between approximately 1,250 to 700 ka. At this time, Earth's climate underwent a major transition from dominant 40 kyr glacial-interglacial cycles to quasi-100 kyr cycles. The cause of the MPT remains a puzzling aspect of Pleistocene climate. Presently, there are few, if any, continuous MPT records from the Arctic yet understanding the role and response of the high latitudes to the MPT is required to better evaluate the causes of this climatic shift. Here, we present new continental biomarker records of temperature and vegetation spanning 1,142 to 752 ka from Lake El'gygytgyn (Far East Russia). We reconstruct warm-season temperature variations across the MPT based on branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (brGDGTs) using the MBTʹ5ME proxy. The new Arctic temperature record does not display an overall cooling trend during the MPT but does exhibit strong glacial-interglacial cyclicity. Spectral analysis demonstrates persistent obliquity and precession pacing over the study interval and reveals substantial sub-orbital temperature variations at ~900 kyr during the first “skipped” interglacial. Interestingly, Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 31, which is widely recognized as a particularly warm interglacial, does not exhibit exceptional warmth at Lake El'gygytgyn. Instead, we find that MIS 29, 27 and 21 were as warm or warmer than MIS 31. In particular, MIS 21 (~870 to 820 ka) stands out as an especially warm and long interglacial in the continental Arctic while MIS 25 is a notably cold interglacial. Throughout the MPT, Lake El'gygytgyn pollen data exhibits a long-term drying trend, with a shift to an increasingly open landscape noted after around 900 ka (Zhao et al., 2018), which is also reflected in our higher plant leaf wax (n-alkane) distributions. Although the mechanisms driving the MPT remain a matter of debate, our new climate records from the continental Arctic exhibit some similarities to changes noted around the North Pacific region. Overall, the new organic geochemical data from Lake El'gygytgyn contribute to expanding our knowledge of the high-latitude response to the MPT.

Kurt R. Lindberg et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-66', Savannah Worne, 27 Jul 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Kurt Lindberg, 20 Sep 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on cp-2021-66', Anonymous Referee #2, 09 Aug 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Kurt Lindberg, 20 Sep 2021

Kurt R. Lindberg et al.

Data sets

Lake El’gygytgyn, Russia Biomarker Data During the Mid-Pleistocene Transition Lindberg, K. R.; Daniels, W. C.; Castañeda, I. S.; Brigham-Grette, J.

Kurt R. Lindberg et al.


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Short summary
Earth experiences regular ice ages resulting in shifts between cooler and warmer climates. Around one million years ago, the ice age cycles grew longer and stronger. We used bacterial and plant lipids preserved in an arctic lake to reconstruct temperature and vegetation during this climate transition. We find that arctic land temperatures did not cool much compared to ocean records from this period, and that vegetation shifts correspond with a long-term drying previously reported in the region.