Extreme decay of meteoric beryllium-10 as a proxy for persistent aridity.
ABSTRACT: The modern Antarctic Dry Valleys are locked in a hyper-arid, polar climate that enables the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) to remain stable, frozen to underlying bedrock. The duration of these dry, cold conditions is a critical prerequisite when modeling the long-term mass balance of the EAIS during past warm climates and is best examined using terrestrial paleoclimatic proxies. Unfortunately, deposits containing such proxies are extremely rare and often difficult to date. Here, we apply a unique dating approach to tundra deposits using concentrations of meteoric beryllium-10 ((10)Be) adhered to paleolake sediments from the Friis Hills, central Dry Valleys. We show that lake sediments were emplaced between 14-17.5 My and have remained untouched by meteoric waters since that time. Our results support the notion that the onset of Dry Valleys aridification occurred ~14 My, precluding the possibility of EAIS collapse during Pliocene warming events. Lake fossils indicate that >14 My ago the Dry Valleys hosted a moist tundra that flourished in elevated atmospheric CO2 (>400 ppm). Thus, Dry Valleys tundra deposits record regional climatic transitions that affect EAIS mass balance, and, in a global paleoclimatic context, these deposits demonstrate how warming induced by 400 ppm CO2 manifests at high latitudes.
Project description:We provide the dataset of climate variables related to the research article "Paleoclimate reconstruction of the Prince Creek Formation, Arctic Alaska, during Maastrichtian global warming" . The dataset includes mean annual precipitation (MAP) values determined using two independent proxies, estimates of the oxygen isotope composition of meteoric water (?18Ow) obtained from smectites and a comparison with previously published siderite data. We also provide the data used to calculate the total flux of CO2 required for the weathering of silicates. This dataset is an example of a multi proxy approach that could add further insight for researchers in the selection of suitable proxies for paleoclimatic interpretations.
Project description:Contrary to earlier assumptions, molecular evidence has demonstrated the presence of diverse and localized soil bacterial communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether fungal signals so far detected in Dry Valley soils using both culture-based and molecular techniques represent adapted and ecologically active biomass or spores transported by wind. Through a systematic and quantitative molecular survey, we identified significant heterogeneities in soil fungal communities across the Dry Valleys that robustly correlate with heterogeneities in soil physicochemical properties. Community fingerprinting analysis and 454 pyrosequencing of the fungal ribosomal intergenic spacer region revealed different levels of heterogeneity in fungal diversity within individual Dry Valleys and a surprising abundance of Chytridiomycota species, whereas previous studies suggested that Dry Valley soils were dominated by Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Critically, we identified significant differences in fungal community composition and structure of adjacent sites with no obvious barrier to aeolian transport between them. These findings suggest that edaphic fungi of the Antarctic Dry Valleys are adapted to local environments and represent an ecologically relevant (and possibly important) heterotrophic component of the ecosystem.
Project description:In Victoria Land, Antarctica, ice-free areas are restricted to coastal regions and dominate the landscape of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. These two environments are subjected to different pressures that determine the establishment of highly adapted fungal communities. Within the kingdom of fungi, filamentous, yeasts and meristematic/microcolonial growth forms on one side and different lifestyles on the other side may be considered adaptive strategies of particular interest in the frame of Antarctic constraints. In this optic, soil fungal communities from both coastal and Dry Valleys sites, already characterized thorough ITS1 metabarcoding sequencing, have been compared to determine the different distribution of phyla, growth forms, and lifestyles. Though we did not find significant differences in the richness between the two environments, the communities were highly differentiated and Dry Valleys sites had a higher evenness compared to coastal ones. Additionally, the distribution of different growth forms and lifestyles were well differentiated, and their diversity and composition were likely influenced by soil abiotic parameters, among which soil granulometry, pH, P, and C contents were the potential main determinants.
Project description:Recent applications of molecular genetics to edaphic microbial communities of the McMurdo Dry Valleys and elsewhere have rejected a long-held belief that Antarctic soils contain extremely limited microbial diversity. The Inter-Valley Soil Comparative Survey aims to elucidate the factors shaping these unique microbial communities and their biogeography by integrating molecular genetic approaches with biogeochemical analyses. Although the microbial communities of Dry Valley soils may be complex, there is little doubt that the ecosystem's food web is relatively simple, and evidence suggests that physicochemical conditions may have the dominant role in shaping microbial communities. To examine this hypothesis, bacterial communities from representative soil samples collected in four geographically disparate Dry Valleys were analyzed using molecular genetic tools, including pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene PCR amplicons. Results show that the four communities are structurally and phylogenetically distinct, and possess significantly different levels of diversity. Strikingly, only 2 of 214 phylotypes were found in all four valleys, challenging a widespread assumption that the microbiota of the Dry Valleys is composed of a few cosmopolitan species. Analysis of soil geochemical properties indicated that salt content, alongside altitude and Cu(2+), was significantly correlated with differences in microbial communities. Our results indicate that the microbial ecology of Dry Valley soils is highly localized and that physicochemical factors potentially have major roles in shaping the microbiology of ice-free areas of Antarctica. These findings hint at links between Dry Valley glacial geomorphology and microbial ecology, and raise previously unrecognized issues related to environmental management of this unique ecosystem.
Project description:We mapped six distinct glacial moraines alongside Stocking Glacier in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Stocking Glacier is one of several alpine glaciers in the Dry Valleys fringed by multiple cold-based drop moraines. To determine the age of the outermost moraine, we collected 10 boulders of Ferrar Dolerite along the crest of the moraine and analyzed mineral separates of pyroxene for cosmogenic <sup>3</sup>He. On the basis of these measurements, the exposure age for the outermost moraine is 391?±?35?ka. This represents the first documented advance of alpine glacier ice in the Dry Valleys during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 11. At this time, Stocking Glacier was ~20-30% larger than today. The cause of ice expansion is uncertain, but most likely it is related to increased atmospheric temperature and precipitation, associated with reduced ice extent in the nearby Ross Embayment. The data suggest complex local environmental response to warm climates in Antarctica and have implications for glacial response to Holocene warming. The study also demonstrates the potential for using alpine glacier chronologies in the Transantarctic Mountains as proxies for retreat of grounded glacier ice in the Ross Embayment.
Project description:Sea-level rise resulting from the instability of polar continental ice sheets represents a major socioeconomic hazard arising from anthropogenic warming, but the response of the largest component of Earth's cryosphere, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS), to global warming is poorly understood. Here we present a detailed record of North Atlantic deep-ocean temperature, global sea-level, and ice-volume change for ∼2.75 to 2.4 Ma ago, when atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide (<i>p</i>CO<sub>2</sub>) ranged from present-day (>400 parts per million volume, ppmv) to preindustrial (<280 ppmv) values. Our data reveal clear glacial-interglacial cycles in global ice volume and sea level largely driven by the growth and decay of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. Yet, sea-level values during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 101 (∼2.55 Ma) also signal substantial melting of the EAIS, and peak sea levels during MIS G7 (∼2.75 Ma) and, perhaps, MIS G1 (∼2.63 Ma) are also suggestive of EAIS instability. During the succeeding glacial-interglacial cycles (MIS 100 to 95), sea levels were distinctly lower than before, strongly suggesting a link between greater stability of the EAIS and increased land-ice volumes in the Northern Hemisphere. We propose that lower sea levels driven by ice-sheet growth in the Northern Hemisphere decreased EAIS susceptibility to ocean melting. Our findings have implications for future EAIS vulnerability to a rapidly warming world.
Project description:Background:The loess-paleosol sequence on the Loess Plateau has been considered an important paleoclimatic archive to study global climatic and environmental changes in the Quaternary. So far, little attention has been paid to the characteristics of soil organic carbon fractions in loess-paleosol sequences, which may provide valuable information for exploring the evolution of climate and environment in the Quaternary on the Loess Plateau. Methods:In order to explore the significance of mineral-associated organic carbon to total organic carbon (MOC/TOC) ratios in the loess-paleosol sequence for reconstructing paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic evolution in the Quaternary on the Loess Plateau, we selected a typical loess-paleosol profile in Chunhua county, Xianyang city, Shaanxi province, as the research object. The content of total organic carbon (TOC) and MOC/TOC ratio in each loess and paleosol layers of the Chunhua loess-paleosol profile were analyzed, together with the paleoclimatic proxies, such as soil grain size, CaCO3 content and their correlations with organic carbon parameters. Results:The main results were as follows: (1) the total content of soil organic carbon and MOC/TOC ratios were generally higher in paleosol layers than in the underlying loess layers of the Chunhua loess-paleosol profile. Compared to total organic carbon content, MOC/TOC ratios changed more obviously in soil layers below a paleosol layer S8; (2) soil clay content and median grain size (Md (ϕ)) were higher in paleosol than in the underlying loess, while CaCO3 content showed an opposite tendency. In the Chunhua profile, the distribution characteristics of the three paleoclimatic proxies showed good indications of paleoclimate changes in the Quaternary; (3) in the Chunhua loess-paleosol profile, MOC/TOC ratios were positively correlated with clay content and median grain size (ϕ), while negatively correlated with CaCO3 content, and the correlations were more significant in soil layers below S8. Discussion:Our results indicated that MOC/TOC ratios in the Chunhua loess-paleosol profile correlated with the cold dry-warm wet paleoclimatic cycle in the Quaternary. The high MOC/TOC ratios in the loess-paleosol profile might reflect warm and humid climate, while lower ratios indicated relatively cold and dry climate. That is because when the climate changed from warm-humid to cold-dry, the vegetation coverage and pedogenesis intensity decreased, which increased soil CaCO3 content and decreased soil clay content and Md (ϕ), leading to decreased MOC/TOC ratios. Compared to TOC, MOC/TOC ratios had greater significance in indicating paleoenvironmental evolution in the Quaternary on the Loess Plateau. Therefore, investigating MOC/TOC ratios in loess-paleosol profile can offer new evidence to reconstructing paleoenvironmental changes, and also provide a basis for predicting responses of soil organic carbon pools to vegetation and climate changes in the future.
Project description:The Neogene eolian deposits in the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP) are one of the most useful continental deposits for understanding climatic changes. To decipher Late Neogene paleoclimatic changes in the CLP, we present a terrestrial mollusk record spanning the time interval between 7.1 and 3.5 Ma from the western CLP. The results indicate four stages of paleoclimatic evolution: From 7.1 to 6.2 Ma, cold and dry climatic conditions prevailed as evidenced by high values of the total number of cold-aridiphilous (CA) mollusk species and by low values of all of the thermo-humidiphilous (TH) mollusk indices. From 6.2 to 5.4 Ma, the climate remained cold and dry but was not quite as dry as during the preceding phase, as indicated by the dominance of CA mollusks and more TH species and individuals. From 5.4 to 4.4 Ma, a warm and moist climate prevailed, as indicated by high values of the TH species and individuals and by the sparsity of CA species and individuals. From 4.4 to 3.5 Ma, all of the CA indices increased significantly and maintained high values; all of the TH indices exhibit high values from 4.4 to 4.0 Ma, an abrupt decrease from 4.0 Ma and a further increase from 3.7 Ma. The CA species of Cathaica pulveraticula, Cathaica schensiensis, and Pupopsis retrodens are only identified in this stage, indicating that the CA species were diversified and that the climate was becoming drier. Moreover, the CA mollusk group exhibits considerable diversity from 7.1 to 5.4 Ma when a cold, dry climate prevailed; whereas the diversity of the TH group was high during the relatively warm, wet interval from 5.4 to 4.4 Ma. This indicates that variations in the diversity of the CA and TH mollusk groups were closely related to climatic changes during the Late Miocene to Pliocene.
Project description:Abiotic and biotic factors control ecosystem biodiversity, but their relative contributions remain unclear. The ultraoligotrophic ecosystem of the Antarctic Dry Valleys, a simple yet highly heterogeneous ecosystem, is a natural laboratory well-suited for resolving the abiotic and biotic controls of community structure. We undertook a multidisciplinary investigation to capture ecologically relevant biotic and abiotic attributes of more than 500 sites in the Dry Valleys, encompassing observed landscape heterogeneities across more than 200 km<sup>2</sup>. Using richness of autotrophic and heterotrophic taxa as a proxy for functional complexity, we linked measured variables in a parsimonious yet comprehensive structural equation model that explained significant variations in biological complexity and identified landscape-scale and fine-scale abiotic factors as the primary drivers of diversity. However, the inclusion of linkages among functional groups was essential for constructing the best-fitting model. Our findings support the notion that biotic interactions make crucial contributions even in an extremely simple ecosystem.