The Missing Terrestrial Link: Peat and the Dust Cycle

Our current understanding of the role of dust in the Earth’s climate is poor owing largely to a lack of data that reflects the high spatial and temporal variability of dust. Reconstructions of dust deposition made using environmental archives provide a means to examine variations in dust through time under the very different climate conditions of the past. At present the spatial coverage of paleorecords from continental locations is sparse. This projects aims to fill this gap through the novel use of peatlands. Although the use of ombrotrophic (i.e., atmospherically fed) peat as an archive of dust deposition has been shown, it has yet to be systematically explored. This project exploits Sweden’s extensive peat deposits to refine the use of this archive reconstructing the first quantified records of variations in dust characteristics (grain size, mineralogy and provenance) and deposition rates during the Holocene in Scandinavia. This is done through high-resolution multi-proxy analyses of four carefully selected peat sequences along an east-west transect in southern Sweden. While expanding the current spatial coverage of continental dust records and providing a better understanding of links between short-term climate shifts and increased dust loading, the data is also used to validate dust simulations made using a global climate model. This process allows for the improvement of climate models and our ability to accurately predict the future scenarios so key to policy makers.

Contact information:
Malin Kylander
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Department of Geological Sciences
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