Speleothems and Monitoring

Changes in interannual rainfall patterns in Central Asia have serious direct impacts on water resources with enormous consequences in supply of drinking water and electrical power. Especially the region around the Fergana basin is a highly vulnerable region for climate hazards (floods and droughts).

Speleothems formed in caves, such as stalagmites, offer a great potential to provide detailed and accurate records of past climates and the affected environment. Thus, can be accurately dated with the U-Th technique and provide a multitude of environment-dependent proxies. By using stable isotopes (δ13C, δ18O), trace elements and fluid inclusions we can reconstruct climate variability and hydrological changes.

The base of our research is the knowledge about the isotopes of recent precipitation patterns and their transformation into the caves. For this we installed several rainwater sampler and a monitoring system in the caves to investigate changes in temperature, humidity, CO2 content, drip water, and recent calcite growing.

δ18O in the water cycle: from precipitation to the speleothems
Toktogul reservoir, Kyrgyzstan
Exploration of the caves from Osh
Speleothems of the Uluu-Too cave
Study of the Chil-Usitin cave
Sampling for isotope measurements

Alexej Dudashvili (Foundation for Preservation and Exploration of Caves in Kyrgyzstan)
Hai Cheng (University Minnesota, Xi'an Jiaotong University)
Christian Wolff (Max Plank Institute of Chemistry, Mainz)
Jens Fohlmeister (University Potsdam, GFZ)

GFZ, Global Change Observatory Central Asia

  • Wolff, C., Plessen, B., Dudashvilli, A. S., Breitenbach, S. F., Cheng, H., Edwards, L. R., Strecker, M. R. (2017): Precipitation evolution of Central Asia during the last 5000 years. - Holocene, 27, 1, p. 142-154. | doi:10.1177/0959683616652711
  • Fohlmeister, J., Plessen, B., Dudashvili, A. S., Tjallingii, R., Wolff, C., Gafurov, A., Cheng, H. (2017): Winter precipitation changes during the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age in arid Central Asia. - Quaternary Science Reviews, 178, p. 24-36. | doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.10.026
  • Schwarz, A., Turner, F., Lauterbach, S., Plessen, B., Krahn, K. J., Glodniok, S., Mischke, S., Stebich, M., Witt, R., Mingram, J., Schwalb, A. (2017): Mid- to late Holocene climate-driven regime shifts inferred from diatom, ostracod and stable isotope records from Lake Son Kol (Central Tian Shan, Kyrgyzstan). - Quaternary Science Reviews, 177, p. 340-356. | doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.10.009


Birgit Plessen
Group Leader
Dr. Birgit Plessen
Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution
Building C, Room 327
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1482


Sylvia Pinkerneil
Dipl.-Geogr. Sylvia Pinkerneil
Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution
Building C, Room 456
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1373