Leroy, S. A. G., & Giralt, S. R. (2020). Humid and cold periods in the last 5600 years in Arid Central Asia revealed by palynology of Picea schrenkiana from Issyk-Kul. The Holocene, 0959683620972776. https://doi.org/10.1177/0959683620972776


Central Asia, with its high mountains, despite its location between Europe and eastern Asia remains a data poor area. However, mountain glaciers are strongly affected by global change and have a wide-ranging impact. A new pollen record over the last 5600 years shows the extension of a dry Artemisia steppe around Lake Issyk-Kul, with a slightly wetter period from 4.5 to 2.7 ka BP (less Ephedra). Picea schrenkiana forest growing on north-facing slopes of the northern Tien Shan Range, are exposed to Westerlies-related precipitation. The pollen record of Picea is therefore a very good marker of wetter and cold conditions. A comparison to a nearby synchronous pollen record at a higher altitude indicates that the whole forest belt moved down, and that it was not a downwards extension of the lower forest limit only. Four cold and humid phases were evidenced over the last 5.6 ka: 5.5 ka, 4.2 ka and following centuries, 3.2 ka and following centuries (before the end of the Bronze Age) and finally the Little Ice Age, with the latter two being more strongly expressed. These climatic changes, in agreement with other Arid Central Asia investigations, corroborate the driving role of the Westerlies far inland. Human activities were more intense in the Mid and Late Bronze Age (4.5–3.2 ka) and in the last 800 years, confirmed by archaeological and historical information. Issyk-Kul and surrounding rich pastureland were most likely an important step in the ancient Silk Road.

Original article

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