Climate-driven changes in water level: a decadal scale multi-proxy study recording the 8.2-ka event and ecosystem responses in Lake Sarup (Denmark)

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Paleolimnology, Springer Netherlands, Volume 49, p.267-285 (2013)



8.2-ka event; Climate change; Lake level; Holocene; Pigments; Cladocera; Stable isotopes; Varved lake sediment


A two-stage change in lake level during the 8.2-ka event was identified in Lake Sarup, Denmark (55°N), using a multiproxy approach on precise radiocarbon wiggle-matched annually laminated sediments deposited 8740–8060 cal. yr BP. Changes in δ13C and δ18O indicated closed lake hydrology driven by precipitation. The isotopic, sedimentary and plant macrofossil records suggested that the lake level started to decrease around 8400 cal. yr BP, the decrease accelerating during 8350–8260 before an abrupt increase during 8260–8210. This pattern shows that the climate anomaly started ~150 years before the onset of the 8.2-ka cooling event registered in Greenland ice cores, but was synchronous with hydrologic change in the North American Lake Agassiz drainage. The lake level decrease was accompanied by a higher accumulation rate of inorganic matter and lower accumulation rates of cladoceran subfossils and algal pigments, possibly due to increased turbidity and reduced nutrient input during this drier period. Pigment analysis also showed added importance of diatoms and cryptophytes during this climate anomaly, while cyanobacteria became more important when the water level rose. Moreover, Nymphaeaceae trichosclereids were abundant during the period of algal enrichment. Cladoceran taxa associated with floating leaved plants or benthic habitats responded in a complex way to changes in water level, but the cladoceran assemblages generally reflected deep lake conditions throughout the period. The lake did not return to its pre-8.2-ka event status during the period of analysis, but remained more productive for centuries after the climatic anomaly as judged from the pigment accumulation and assemblage composition. The change to more eutrophic conditions may have been triggered by erosion of marginal deposits. Together, these data confirm the chronology of hydrologic changes and suggest, for the first time, that lake levels exhibited both a decline and an increase in rapid succession in response to the 8.2-ka event in southern Scandinavia.