Novel methods for studying palaeoclimate dynamics

Marwan, Norbert; Kraemer, Kai Hauke; Wiesner, Karolin; Breitenbach, Sebastian F. M.; Leonhardt, Jens

Recurrence based entropies Presentation

07.05.2019, (Fourth International Conference on Recent Advances in Nonlinear Mechanics, Łódz (Poland)).

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Marwan, Norbert; Kraemer, Kai Hauke; Wiesner, Karolin; Breitenbach, Sebastian F. M.; Leonhardt, Jens

Recurrence based entropies Proceedings Article

In: Geophysical Research Abstracts, pp. EGU2019-2817, 2019.

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At PIK, among other things, new methods are being developed that, on the one hand, can be used to investigate new aspects in palaeoclimate data, but on the other hand can also cope with the difficulties usually associated with palaeoclimate analyses – such as gaps in data series, uncertainties in the dating, or irregularities in the data sampling. Although this is basic research, it is also immediately applied to interesting questions.

In this example, a method was developed to determine the regularity of certain recurring pattern in the data. The technical terms here are “recurrence” and “entropy” (a measure of disorder). Methods that look for recurring patterns are used in various disciplines, not only in the geosciences, but also in medicine, mechanical engineering, finance, and so on. Besides finding abrupt changes, they are also used for comparing different data sets or for classification (e.g. for machine learning).

The newly developed method was applied to the carbon isotopeIsotop Chemische Elemente können aus verschieden aufgebauten Atomen gebildet sein. Die Anzahl Protonen im Atomkern ist zwar dabei gleich, aber die Anzahl der Neutronen kann variieren. Man spricht dann von Isotopen, deren Massen kleine, aber messbare Unterschiede aufweisen. Der Atomkern des Sauerstoffs besteht z. B. aus 8 Protonen und in der Regel aus 8 Neutronen. Es gibt aber auch Sauerstoff, dessen Kerne aus 8 Protonen und 9 oder 10 Neutronen bestehen (neben selteneren, instabilen Sauerstoffisotopen). Um das zu kennzeichnen, gibt man zusätzlich zum chemischen Symbol noch die Massenzahl (Summe aus Protonen und Neutronen) an, also 16O, 17O oder 18O. Die unterschiedlichen Isotope verhalten sich zwar chemisch identisch, physikalisch aber - aufgrund ihres unterschiedlichen Gewichtes - leicht unterschiedlich. Damit stellen sie äusserst wertvolle Marker dar, die uns wichtige Hinweise zur Änderung des Klimas, der Umgebungsvegetation, Bodenaktivität und vielem mehr geben. data from BB-1 and BB-3 (for this purpose, the data from both stalagmites were combined into one long data series using a special procedure). Interestingly, there are regular differences during the influence of the maritime climate (Atlantic influence) and during the influence of the continental climate. During the Atlantic influence, the climate seems to have changed more regularly than during the dominant continental climate (this may be related to the regular change of cold events in the North Atlantic, so-called “Bond events”, or to the North Atlantic Oscillation). This could be used to extend our knowledge about the migration of the climate zone boundary, as known for the last 4,000 years (see Climate Zone Shift in central Europe), further into the past. Whenever the new measure indicates that there were more regular climate dynamics, the climate zone boundary was further east of the Bleßberg Cave.

Climate Zone Shift in central Europe

Marwan, Norbert

Bleßberghöhle – Schatzkammer für die Wissenschaft Presentation

15.06.2022, (VdHK-Symposium: Wissenschaft unter Tage – Höhlenforschung im Dialog, Truckenthal (Germany)).


Breitenbach, Sebastian F. M.; Marwan, Norbert

Die Bleßberghöhle – ein Glücksfall für die Klimaforschung Book Section

In: Thüringer Höhlenverein, e. V. (Ed.): Nächster Halt: Bleßberghöhle, Suhl, 2022.

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Breitenbach, Sebastian F. M.; Plessen, Birgit; Waltgenbach, Sarah; Tjallingii, Rik; Leonhardt, Jens; Jochum, Klaus-Peter; Meyer, Hanno; Goswami, Bedartha; Marwan, Norbert; Scholz, Denis

Holocene interaction of maritime and continental climate in Central Europe: New speleothem evidence from Central Germany Journal Article

In: Global and Planetary Change, vol. 176, pp. 144–161, 2019.

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Breitenbach, Sebastian F. M.; Plessen, Birgit; Wenz, Sarah; Leonhardt, Jens; Tjallingii, Rik; Scholz, Denis; Jochum, Klaus-Peter; Marwan, Norbert

A multi-proxy reconstruction of Holocene climate change from Blessberg Cave, Germany Proceedings Article

In: Geophysical Research Abstracts, pp. EGU2016-14213, 2016.

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BB-1, BB-2 and BB-3.
BB-1, BB-2 and BB-3.

The three stalagmites BB-1 to BB-3 were geochemically investigated by GFZ Potsdam, Ruhr-Uni Bochum, PIK Potsdam, Uni Mainz and Northumbria University.

The dating was done at the University of Mainz. Stalagmite BB-1 grew 5,600 to 600 years ago, BB-2 6,200 to 3,700 years ago, and BB-3 (although the shortest) 11,200 to 5,300 years ago. At GFZ, carbon and oxygen isotopes (δ13C and δ18O) were measured in over 1,000 samples in BB-1, and about 400 and 540 samples each in BB-2 and BB-3. In parallel, the distribution of various elements was measured by X-ray analysis. Age modelling and statistical analysis were carried out at Ruhr-Uni Bochum, PIK Potsdam and Northumbria University.

In the age models of stalagmites BB-1 and BB-3, abrupt changes from slow to fast growth are evident at about 5,900 BC and from fast to more slow growth at about 2,600 BC.

Age model of BB-1 and BB-3
Age models of stalagmites BB-1 and BB-3. Changes in growth rates at around 6,200 BC and between 5,900 and 2,600 BC can clearly be seen, for which climatic changes are responsible.

The temporal changes in isotope ratios were compared with palaeoclimate data from the Bunker Cave in North Rhine-Westphalia and from Greenland.

Carbon and oxygen istotopes of BB-1 and BB-3
Isotope ratios in stalagmites BB-1 and BB-3 (combined). The longer-term trends probably reflect a change in solar influence. The short-term climate cooling around 6,200 BC is clearly visible in the isotope ratios. The abrupt drop in δ18O values around 900 to 1,200 AD coincides with the Medieval Warm Period.

This comparison allows an estimation of the spatial distribution of the influence of the maritime, humid and warm Atlantic climate in Central Europe. The Blessberg cave is located at the border between the influence of the Atlantic climate and the continental, drier and colder climate from the east. From the alternation between stronger similarities and greater differences in the regional climate at the Blessberg Cave and the Bunker Cave it can be determined when the climate zone boundary was east or west of the Bleßberg Cave, i.e. when the Atlantic, wetter and warmer climate and when the colder and drier continental climate prevailed over the Bleßberg Cave. This analysis could be carried out back to about 4,000 years ago (i.e. about 2050 BC). Before this time, due to the lack of data from Greenland, it is not yet possible to make conclusions regarding the location of the climate zone boundary, but at least around this time the Bleßberg Cave was probably under the influence of the Atlantic climate. Around 1850 BC it then changed to a continental climate (in the late Aunjetitz culture, known from the Nebra sky disc). Between 950 and 850 BC, the Atlantic influence became more dominant again (towards the end of the Urnfield Culture).

Karte der Verlagerung der Klimazonengrenze.
Shift of the climate zone boundary (dashed) to the east with hypothetical course (dotted) at the time of the Urnfield Culture (BU – Bunker Cave, BBH – Blessberg Cave).