Palaeoecological Interpretation of a Late Holocene Sediment Sequence from the Alpine Belt of the Southern Mongolian Altai Mountains

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The climate in the Altai Mountains is determined by two major climate systems whose dominance has varied over time, leading to significant spatio-temporal changes in temperature and precipitation during the Holocene. This study aimed at the reconstruction of the local to regional moisture and temperature conditions in an alpine belt of the southern Mongolian Altai during the Late Holocene. It thereby contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the region’s palaeoclimate in the Holocene. Our reconstruction is based on palynological and sediment analyses as well as radiometric age determinations of samples from a 130 cm exposed soil/sediment profile within the alpine belt. Largely supported by sedimentological and geochemical observations, the pollen assemblages indicate a warm and dry period between about 2600 and 2250 cal a BP, a subsequent cold and humid phase extending to about 130 cal a BP, and a return to warm and dry conditions lasting to present. Our data support the results of recent studies on the regional climate variability and the observation of significant differences in the mode of climate changes and its temporal sequence within the Altai Mountains. Although the pollen assemblages in the profile reflected a continuous anthropo-zoogenic influence on the study site’s vegetation climatic signals were clearly detectable, underlining the indicator value of the pollen data from the Alpine sediments for regional palaeoclimatic reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalOpen Quaternary
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 17.02.2022

Bibliographical note

The authors are indebted to Oyundari Chuluunkhuyag from the Department of Biology at the National University of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar for information on recent vegetation (2015). We also would like to thank Sabine Hansen and Mario Tucci (Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany) for laboratory treatment and pollen data processing with the TILIA software. The authors’ special thanks go to Prof. Dr. Norbert Benecke, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Berlin (Germany), for the identification of bone fragments and to Prof. Dr. Karsten Wesche, Senckenberg Museum of Natural History, Görlitz (Germany), for help with pollen interpretation. We also thank the anonymous reviewers providing helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. This study was conducted as part of the WATERCOPE project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD, Rome, Italy (I-R-1284).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • C analysis, A/Cy ratio, Anthropo-zoogenic disturbance, Climate change, Micro charcoal particles, Moisture change, Palaeosol, Pollen analysis, Temperature change
  • Biology