Abstract

Atmospheric dusts are an important part of the global climate system, and play an important role in the marine and terrestrial biogeochemical cycles of major and trace nutrient elements. A peat bog record of atmospheric deposition shows considerable variation in dust deposition during the past 15 k.y., with abrupt changes in fluxes at 12, 9.2, 8.4, 7.2, and 6 cal. kyr B.P. Using Nd isotopes and rare earth elements, it is possible to clearly distinguish between volcanic inputs and those driven by climate change, such as the long-term aridification of the Sahara and regional erosion due to forest clearing and soil cultivation activities. Our results indicate that a major dust event in North Africa and Europe preceded the 8.2 kyr B.P. cold event by 200 yr. This dust event may have played an active role in the following climate cooling of the 8.2 kyr B.P. event. Nd isotope evidence also indicates a relatively slow change in dust regime over Europe from 7 to 5 kyr B.P. due to Sahara expansion. These findings show that the inorganic fraction in high-resolution peat records can provide remarkably sensitive indicators of dust load and sources. Our study supports the priority to better identify the impact of dust loading during the Holocene in terms of direct and indirect impacts on environmental and climate changes.

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