Relationships between low-temperature fires, climate and vegetation during three late glacials and interglacials of the last 430 kyr in northeastern Siberia reconstructed from monosaccharide anhydrides in Lake El'gygytgyn sediments.

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From: Climate of the Past(Vol. 16, Issue 2)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Article
Length: 406 words

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Abstract :

Landscapes in high northern latitudes are assumed to be highly sensitive to future global change, but the rates and long-term trajectories of changes are rather uncertain. In the boreal zone, fires are an important factor in climate-vegetation interactions and biogeochemical cycles. Fire regimes are characterized by small, frequent, low-intensity fires within summergreen boreal forests dominated by larch, whereas evergreen boreal forests dominated by spruce and pine burn large areas less frequently but at higher intensities. Here, we explore the potential of the monosaccharide anhydrides (MA) levoglucosan, mannosan and galactosan to serve as proxies of low-intensity biomass burning in glacial-to-interglacial lake sediments from the high northern latitudes. We use sediments from Lake El'gygytgyn (cores PG 1351 and ICDP 5011-1), located in the far north-east of Russia, and study glacial and interglacial samples of the last 430 kyr (marine isotope stages 5e, 6, 7e, 8, 11c and 12) that had different climate and biome configurations. Combined with pollen and non-pollen palynomorph records from the same samples, we assess how far the modern relationships between fire, climate and vegetation persisted during the past, on orbital to centennial timescales. We find that MAs attached to particulates were well-preserved in up to 430 kyr old sediments with higher influxes from low-intensity biomass burning in interglacials compared to glacials. MA influxes significantly increase when summergreen boreal forest spreads closer to the lake, whereas they decrease when tundra-steppe environments and, especially, Sphagnum peatlands spread. This suggests that low-temperature fires are a typical characteristic of Siberian larch forests also on long timescales. The results also suggest that low-intensity fires would be reduced by vegetation shifts towards very dry environments due to reduced biomass availability, as well as by shifts towards peatlands, which limits fuel dryness. In addition, we observed very low MA ratios, which we interpret as high contributions of galactosan and mannosan from biomass sources other than those currently monitored, such as the moss-lichen mats in the understorey of the summergreen boreal forest. Overall, sedimentary MAs can provide a powerful proxy for fire regime reconstructions and extend our knowledge of long-term natural fire-climate-vegetation feedbacks in the high northern latitudes.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A622447183