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Quaternary climate change and Heinrich events in the southern Balkans: Lake Prespa diatom palaeolimnology from the last interglacial to present

Cvetkoska, Aleksandra; Levkov, Zlatko; Reed, Jane M.; Wagner, Bernd; Panagiotopoulos, Konstantinos; Leng, Melanie J.; Lacey, Jack H.


Aleksandra Cvetkoska

Zlatko Levkov

Jane M. Reed

Bernd Wagner

Konstantinos Panagiotopoulos

Melanie J. Leng

Jack H. Lacey


Lake Prespa, in the Balkans, contains an important palaeo-archive in a key location for understanding Quaternary climate variability in the transition between Mediterranean and central European climate zones. Previous palaeoenvironmental research on sediment cores indicates that the lake is highly sensitive to climate change and that diatoms are likely to be strong palaeohydrological proxies. Here, we present new results from diatom analysis of a ca. 91 ka sequence, core Co1215, which spans the time from the end of the last interglacial to the present. Fluctuations in the diatom data were driven primarily by changes in lake level, as a function of shifts in moisture availability. Warmer interglacial (MIS 5, MIS 1) and interstadial(MIS3)phases exhibit higher lake levels in spite of enhanced evaporative concentration, underlining the importance of changes in precipitation regimes over time. Low lake levels during glacial phases indicate extreme aridity, common to all Mediterranean lakes. Evidence for fluctuations in trophic status is linked, in part, to lake-level change, but also reflects nutrient enrichment from catchment processes. MIS 5a is characterized by the highest lake productivity in the sequence, but low lake levels, which are ascribed primarily to very low precipitation. On a suborbital timescale, the diatoms provide evidence for correlation to the millennial-scale variability recorded in the Greenland oxygen isotope records and clearly reflect theimpactoftheHeinrichH6,H5andH3–1ice-rafting events, suggesting the dominant influence of North Atlantic forcing in this region. Although the highest amplitude shift in the diatom assemblages occurs during the time of H4 (40–38 ka), it may be superimposed upon the impact of the 39.28 cal ka BP Campanian Ignimbrite volcanic eruption. Diatoms from Lake Prespa core Co1215 display the first strong evidence for the impact of Italian volcanic activity on lacustrine biota in this region. Results emphasize the complexity of diatom response thresholds in different studies across the region. In the case of Lake Prespa, the results highlight the important role of precipitation for maintaining the hydrological balance of the lake, and indirectly, its biodiversity.


Cvetkoska, A., Levkov, Z., Reed, J. M., Wagner, B., Panagiotopoulos, K., Leng, M. J., & Lacey, J. H. (2015). Quaternary climate change and Heinrich events in the southern Balkans: Lake Prespa diatom palaeolimnology from the last interglacial to present. Journal of paleolimnology, 53(2), 215-231.

Acceptance Date Dec 2, 2014
Online Publication Date Dec 11, 2014
Publication Date 2015-02
Deposit Date Dec 15, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Journal of palaeolimnology
Print ISSN 0921-2728
Electronic ISSN 1573-0417
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue 2
Pages 215-231
Keywords Lake Prespa, Diatoms, Lake level change, Palaeoclimate, Tephra impact, Quaternary, Heinrich events
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an authors accepted manuscript of an article published in Journal of palaeolimnology, 2015, v.53 issue 2. The final publication is available at Springer via


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