Carbon and oxygen stable isotopic compositions of lacustrine carbonate from a southeastern Michigan marl lake display linear covariance over a range of 4.0‰ Peedee belemnite (PDB) in oxygen and 3.9‰ (PDB) in carbon. Mechanisms of δ13C-δ18O coupling conventionally attributed to lake closure in arid-region basins are inapplicable to hydrologically open lake systems. Thus, an alternative explanation of isotopic covariance in temperate region dimictic marl lakes is required. We propose that isotopic covariance is a direct record of change in regional climate. In short-residence-time temperate-region lake basins, summer meteoric precipitation is enriched in 18O relative to winter values, and summer organic productivity enriches epilimnic dissolved inorganic carbon in 13C. Thus, climate change toward longer summers and/or shorter winters could result in greater proportions of warm-month meteoric precipitation, longer durations of warm-month productivity, and net long-term enrichment in carbonate 18O and 13C. Isotopic covariance observed in the Michigan marl lake cores is interpreted to reflect postglacial warming from 10 to 3 ka followed by cooler mean annual temperature, a shift toward greater proportions of seasonal summer precipitation, a shortening of the winter season, or some combination of these three factors.

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