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A modern pollen–climate calibration set from central-western Mongolia and its application to a late glacial–Holocene record

Authors

  • Fang Tian,

    Corresponding author
    1. Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
    2. Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
    • Correspondence: Fang Tian, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam, Telegrafenberg A5, 14473 Potsdam, Germany.

      E-mails: Fang.Tian@awi.de; tfhebtu@sohu.com

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  • Ulrike Herzschuh,

    1. Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
    2. Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
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  • Richard J. Telford,

    1. Department of Biology and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
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  • Steffen Mischke,

    1. Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
    2. Institute of Geological Sciences, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
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  • Thijs Van der Meeren,

    1. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Freshwater Biology, Brussels, Belgium
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  • Michael Krengel

    1. Institute of Geological Sciences, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
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Abstract

Aim

Fossil pollen spectra from lake sediments in central and western Mongolia have been used to interpret past climatic variations, but hitherto no suitable modern pollen–climate calibration set has been available to infer past climate changes quantitatively. We established such a modern pollen dataset and used it to develop a transfer function model that we applied to a fossil pollen record in order to investigate: (1) whether there was a significant moisture response to the Younger Dryas event in north-western Mongolia; and (2) whether the early Holocene was characterized by dry or wet climatic conditions.

Location

Central and western Mongolia.

Methods

We analysed pollen data from surface sediments from 90 lakes. A transfer function for mean annual precipitation (Pann) was developed with weighted averaging partial least squares regression (WA-PLS) and applied to a fossil pollen record from Lake Bayan Nuur (49.98° N, 93.95° E, 932 m a.s.l.). Statistical approaches were used to investigate the modern pollen–climate relationships and assess model performance and reconstruction output.

Results

Redundancy analysis shows that the modern pollen spectra are characteristic of their respective vegetation types and local climate. Spatial autocorrelation and significance tests of environmental variables show that the WA-PLS model for Pann is the most valid function for our dataset, and possesses the lowest root mean squared error of prediction.

Main conclusions

Precipitation is the most important predictor of pollen and vegetation distributions in our study area. Our quantitative climate reconstruction indicates a dry Younger Dryas, a relatively dry early Holocene, a wet mid-Holocene and a dry late Holocene.

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