Holocene history of the Baltic Sea as a background for assessing records of human impact in the sediments of the Gotland Basin

  • Andrén E
  • Andrén T
  • Kunzendorf H
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Abstract

Sediment cores from the Gotland Basin were studied for their siliceous microfossil assemblages and organic carbon content to compare recent environmental changes in the Baltic Sea with its natural long-term history. Age models were constructed using 210 Pb, 137 Cs and corrected and calibrated 14 C dates. The trans-gression that marks the onset of the Ancylus Lake stage is recorded in the sediments as a small increase in organic carbon coinciding with a peak in diatom abundance and increased diatom diversity. A minor occurrence of brackish-freshwater diatoms is recorded in the Ancylus Lake c. 9950–9750 cal. yr BP (c. 8900–8800 14 C yr BP), correlating with the onset of the Initial Litorina Sea in the Bornholm Basin. A high-productivity event is recorded in the end of the Post-Litorina Sea and corresponds to the Mediaeval warm event. An alteration in the diatom assemblage contemporaneous with a decrease in organic carbon, interpreted as representing a deterioration in the climate, correlates with the start of the 'Little Ice Age' about 850–700 cal. yr BP. A change dated to ad 1950–1960 is probably an effect of increased nutrient availability in the open Baltic Sea. This effect of eutrophication was probably caused by increased discharge of nutrients deriving from fertilizers, as the responding diatom species partly indicate a cold climate rather than a warm one, as would have been expected if this had been only a response to the warmer climate documented during the last 100 years or so.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Baltic Sea
  • Climate change
  • Diatoms
  • Environmental change
  • Eutrophication
  • Holocene
  • Human impact
  • Little Ice Age
  • Mediaeval warm event
  • Siliceous microfossils

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