Lake Ohrid, Albania, provides an exceptional multi-proxy record of environmental changes during the last glacial-interglacial cycle
von Grafenstein, U.
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Multi-proxy analyses on core JO2004-1 recovered from Lake Ohrid (40°55.000 N, 20°40.297E, 705 m a.s.l.) provide the first environmental and climate reconstruction in a mountainous area in Southern Europe over the last 140,000 years. The response of both lacustrine and terrestrial environments to climate change has been amplified by the peculiar geomorphological and hydrological setting, with a steep altitudinal gradient in the catchment and a karstic system feeding the lake. The karstic system was active during interglacials, leading to high carbonate production in the lake, and blocked during glacials as a result of extremely cold climate conditions with permafrost in the mountains. At the Riss–Eemian transition (Termination 2) the increase in lacustrine productivity predated forest expansion by about 10,000 years. In contrast, the Late Glacial–Holocene transition (Termination 1) was characterized by the dramatic impact of the Younger Dryas, which initially prevented interglacial carbonate production and delayed its maximum until the mid- Holocene. In contrast, forest expansion was progressive, starting as early as ca. 38,000 ago. The proximity of high mountains and the probable moderating lake effect on local climate conditions promoted forest expansion, and contributed to make the surroundings of Lake Ohrid favourable to forest refugia during the last glacial, usually steppic, period. Our study of sedimentology, mineralogy, geochemistry, magnetics, palynology and isotopes illustrates the non-linear response of terrestrial and lacustrine ecosystems to similar climate events, and demonstrates the potential of Lake Ohrid as an excellent paleoclimatic archive during the Quaternary.
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