We investigated mineral aerosol (dust) deposition in the Aral Sea with intention to understand the variability of dust in central Asia and its implications for atmospheric circulation change in the late Holocene. Using an 11.12-m sediment core of the lake, we calculated bulk sediment fluxes at high time-resolution and analyzed grain-size distributions of detrital sediments. A refined age-depth model was established by combined methods of radiocarbon dating and archeological evidence. Besides, a principal component analysis (PCA) of grain-size fractions and elements (Fe, Ti, K, Ca, Sr) was used to assess the potential processes controlling detrital inputs. The results suggest that two processes are mainly relevant for the clastic input as the medium silt fractions and Ti, Fe and K are positively correlated with Component 1 (C1), and the fine size fractions (<6 μm) are positively correlated with Component 2 (C2). Taking the results of the PCA, geological backgrounds, clastic input processes into account, we propose that the medium silt fractions and, in particular, the grain-size fraction ratio (6–32 μm/2–6 μm), can serve as indicators of the variability of airborne dust in the Aral Sea region. On the contrary, the fine size fractions appear to be contributed mainly by the sheetwash processes. The bulk sediment deposition fluxes were extremely high during the Little Ice Age (LIA; AD 1400–1780), which may be related to the increased dust deposition. As indicated by the variations of grain-size ratio and Ti, the history of dust deposition in central Asia can be divided into five distinct periods, with a remarkably low deposition during AD 1–350, a moderately high value from AD 350–720, a return to relatively low level between AD 720 and AD 1400 (including the Medieval Warm Period (MWP, AD 755–1070)), an exceptionally high deposition from AD 1400 to 1940s and an abnormally low value since 1940s. The temporal variations in the dust deposition are consistent with the changes in the Siberian High (SH) and mean atmospheric temperature of the northern hemisphere during the past 2000 years, with low/high annual temperature anomalies corresponding to high/low dust supplies in the Aral Sea sediments, respectively. The variations in the fine size fraction also show a broadly similarity to a lacustrine δ18O record in Turkey (Jones et al., 2006), implying that there was less moisture entering western central Asia from the Mediterranean during the LIA than during the MWP.
(2011): Dust deposition in the Aral Sea: implications for changes in atmospheric circulation in central Asia during the past 2000 years
. Quaternary Science Reviews