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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 6 | Copyright
Clim. Past, 14, 871-886, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 21 Jun 2018

Research article | 21 Jun 2018

High-latitude Southern Hemisphere fire history during the mid- to late Holocene (6000–750 BP)

Dario Battistel1,2, Natalie M. Kehrwald3, Piero Zennaro1, Giuseppe Pellegrino1, Elena Barbaro1,2, Roberta Zangrando2, Xanthi X. Pedeli1, Cristiano Varin1, Andrea Spolaor2, Paul T. Vallelonga4, Andrea Gambaro1,2, and Carlo Barbante1,2 Dario Battistel et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Science, Informatics and Statistics, University Ca' Foscari of Venice, Via Torino 155, 30170 Mestre Venezia, Venice, Italy
  • 2Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes – IDPA-CNR, Via Torino 155, 30170 Mestre Venezia, Venice, Italy
  • 3US Geological Survey, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, Denver, CO 80225, USA
  • 4Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract. We determined the specific biomass burning biomarker levoglucosan in an ice core from the TALos Dome Ice CorE drilling project (TALDICE) during the mid- to late Holocene (6000–750BP). The levoglucosan record is characterized by a long-term increase with higher rates starting at  ∼ 4000BP and peaks between 2500 and 1500BP. The anomalous increase in levoglucosan centered at  ∼ 2000BP is consistent with other Antarctic biomass burning records. Multiple atmospheric phenomena affect the coastal Antarctic Talos Dome drilling site, where the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is the most prominent as the Southern Annular Mode Index (SAMA) correlates with stable isotopes in precipitation throughout the most recent 1000 years of the ice core. If this connection remains throughout the mid- to late Holocene, then our results demonstrate that changes in biomass burning, rather than changes in atmospheric transport, are the major influence on the TALDICE levoglucosan record. Comparisons with charcoal syntheses help evaluate fire sources, showing a greater contribution from southern South American fires than from Australian biomass burning. The levoglucosan peak centered at  ∼ 2000BP occurs during a cool period throughout the Southern Hemisphere, yet during a time of increased fire activity in both northern and southern Patagonia. This peak in biomass burning is influenced by increased vegetation in southern South America from a preceding humid period, in which the vegetation desiccated during the following cool, dry period. The Talos Dome ice core record from 6000 to  ∼ 750BP currently does not provide clear evidence that the fire record may be strongly affected by anthropogenic activities during the mid- to late Holocene, although we cannot exclude at least a partial influence.

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Short summary
From the analysis of an Antarctic ice core we showed that during the mid- to late Holocene (6000–750 BP) the long-term fire activity increased with higher rates starting at ~ 4000 BP and, more surprisingly, peaked between 2500 and 1500 BP. The anomalous increase in biomass burning centered at about 2000 BP is due to a complex interaction between changes in atmospheric circulation and biomass availability, with the main contribution coming from southern South America.
From the analysis of an Antarctic ice core we showed that during the mid- to late Holocene...