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Anthropogenic and climatic influences over the past three centuries on characteristics of an Adirondack lake, Eastern North America


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Fourth Lake is a drainage lake at 43°N, 74°W, from which a 37-cm long mud-water interface core was recovered. 210Pb dating indicates the core spans ≈340 years, from the Little Ice Age through modern global warming. Diatom accumulation responds to anthropogenic watershed disturbances, declining slightly up-core until a peak in the late-1800s attributable to sediment and nutrient influx from logging and enlargement of the outlet dam. A dramatic decrease occurs ≈1900 as logging and lake filling ceased, and a smaller peak ≈1960 accompanies residential development. Similar changes occur in organic carbon accumulation, which ranges from 0.0038–0.024 mg cm−2 year−1, with generally decreasing values up-core, punctuated by maximum values in the late-1800s. Expressing diatoms as concentration, however, reveals a doubling up-core that positively correlates with changes extending beyond the watershed, including Northern Hemisphere temperature, atmospheric CO2 concentration and solar irradiance (R = 0.627, 0.675 and 0.400, respectively). A >50% increase in % organic carbon, from 3.8% to 5.9%, also positively correlates with these larger-scale environmental conditions (R = 0.828, 0.830 and 0.832), while negative correlations with the extrabasinal records are exhibited by magnetic susceptibility (R = −0.654, −0.496, and −0.660) and clay (R = −0.770, −0.762, and −0.737). These changes are consistent with decreased sediment influx and reduced dilution of biogenous sedimentary components. In contrast to total diatoms, the accumulation of planktonic genus Asterionella displays a long-term increase up-core. Potential explanations include increasing duration of the ice-free season or a shift in the timing of the spring bloom and a mismatch with abundance of predator(s). Asterionella also increases as a percentage of total diatoms, being positively correlated with extrabasinal conditions (R = 0.827, 0.774 and 0.674). This change occurs at the expense of many benthic genera and, over the past century, at the expense of tychoplanktonic genus, Aulacosiera. Heavily silicified, Aulacosiera requires strong mixing to remain within the epilimnion. Thus, its decline might result from increasing stratification caused by warming.