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Abrupt climate changes in south-central Chile during the last deglaciation (18-10 kyr) revealed by the bulk organic geochemical record of Puyehue Lake sediments (40°S)
Bertrand, S.; De Batist, M. ; Sterken, M.; Fagel, N. (2008). Abrupt climate changes in south-central Chile during the last deglaciation (18-10 kyr) revealed by the bulk organic geochemical record of Puyehue Lake sediments (40°S). Eos, Trans. (Wash. D.C.) 89(53): PP41C-1465
In: Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union. American Geophysical Union: Washington, etc.. ISSN 0096-3941, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Document type: Summary

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  • Bertrand, S.
  • De Batist, M., more
  • Sterken, M., more
  • Fagel, N., more

    Paleoclimate data from the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere yield conflicting interpretations of interhemispheric synchrony/asynchrony of the climate system. In order to improve our understanding of the past climate changes in southern South America, we investigated the sedimentary record of Puyehue Lake, at the northern boundary of the southern westerly wind belt in south-central Chile (40° S). We analyzed the elemental (C, N) and stable isotopic (d13C, d15N) composition of the sedimentary organic matter preserved in the lake and its watershed to estimate the relative changes in the sources of sedimentary organic carbon through space and time. The geochemical signature of the aquatic and terrestrial end- members was determined by analyzing samples of lake particulate organic matter (N/C: 0.130) and Holocene paleosols (N/C: 0.069), respectively. A simple mixing equation based on the N/C ratio of these end-members was then used to estimate the fraction of terrestrial carbon (fT) preserved in the lake sediments. Our approach is validated using surface sediment samples, which show a strong relation between fT and distance to the main rivers and to the shore. We further apply this equation to an 11.22 m long sediment core to reconstruct paleoenvironmental changes in Puyehue Lake and its watershed during the last 17.9 kyr. Our data provide evidence for a first warming pulse at 17.3 kyr cal. BP, which triggered a rapid increase in lake productivity, lagging a similar increase in sea surface temperature (SST) off Chile by ~1500 years. This delay is best explained by the presence of a large glacier in the lake watershed, which delayed the response time of the terrestrial proxies and limited the concomitant expansion of the vegetation cover in the lake watershed (low fT). A second warming pulse at 12.8 kyr cal. BP is inferred from a substantial increase in lake productivity and a concomitant expansion of the vegetation in the lake watershed, demonstrating that the Puyehue glacier had significantly retreated from the watershed. This second warming pulse is synchronous with a 2° C increase in SST and corresponds to the beginning of the Younger Dryas cold event. These results contribute to the mounting evidence that the climate in the mid-latitudes of the southern Hemisphere was warming during the Younger Dryas, in agreement with the bipolar see-saw hypothesis.

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