Climate in the Western Cordillera of the Central Andes over the last 4300 years

Zbynek Engel, Grzegorz Skrzypek, Tomas Chuman, Ludek Šefrna, Martin Mihaljevič

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    The Distichia peat core obtained in the Carhuasanta valley near Nevado Mismi, Cordillera Chila, provides information on climatic and environmental conditions over the last ~4300 years. The relative changes in the stable carbon isotope composition of plant remains preserved in the core reflect major temperature fluctuations in the Western Cordillera of the southern Peruvian Andes. These temperature variations can be additionally linked with the changes in precipitation patterns by analysing C% and C/N ratio in the core. Relatively warm and moist conditions prevailed from 4280 to 3040cal.yrsBP (BC 2330-1090) with a short colder dry episode around 3850cal.yrsBP (BC 1900). The most prominent climate changes recorded in the peat occurred between 3040 and 2750cal.yrsBP (BC 1090-800) when the initial warming turned to a rapid cooling to temperatures at least 2°C lower than the mean for the Late Holocene. Initially drier conditions within this event turned to a short wet phase after 2780cal.yrsBP (BC 830) when the temperature increased again. This event coincides with significant changes in peat and ice core records in the Central Andes matching the timing of the global climate event around 2.8cal.ka BP. Climatic conditions in the study area became relatively dry and stable after the event for about 800 years. Highly variable temperatures and humidity prevailed during the last 2000 years when an extended warm and relatively humid period occurred between 640 and 155cal.yrsBP (AD 1310-1795) followed by predominantly colder and drier conditions. The established δ13C peat record represents the first continuous proxy for the temperature in the southern Peruvian Andes dated by the AMS 14C. Distichia peat is wide spread in the Andes and the proposed approach can be applied elsewhere in high altitudes, where no other traditional climate proxies are available. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)60-77
    JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
    Early online date2 Jul 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014


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