Centennial glacier retreat increases sedimentation and eutrophication in Subantarctic periglacial lakes: A study case of Lake Uruguay

García Rodríguez, F., Piccini, C., Carrizo, D., Sánchez García, L., Pérez, L., Crisci, C., Oaquim, A. B. J., Evangelista, H., Soutullo, A., Azcune, G., Lüning, S. 2021. Centennial glacier retreat increases sedimentation and eutrophication in Subantarctic periglacial lakes: A study case of Lake Uruguay. Science of the Total Environment 754, 1, 142066, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142066

High resolution XRF scanning documented inter-annual paleolimnological changes of a Subantarctic periglacial lake, during a process of centennial glacier retreat in King George Island, Antarctica. Two major paleoenvironmental stages were inferred from the combined analysis of elemental, molecular and isotopic biomarkers, with a boundary or transition set at about 3200 yr BP. The first stage was characterized by a relatively low allochthonous organic content, reduced productivity and nitrogen levels. Such paleoenvironmental conditions are interpreted as a terrestrial system under periglacial influence, where material influx was related to erosion process from the melt water discharge, because of the proximity to the Collins Glacier ice cap. After the major Holocene glacier advance dated at about 3500 yr BP, the ice cap retreat led to the formation of Lake Uruguay, which involved in filling processes leading to moraine deposits, proglacial meltwater channels, and lakes next to the land glacier. During the second stage, with the onset of the Current Warm Period, prior to 1900 CE the stabilization of the Zr/Rb ratio within the laminated sediments documented the origin of the lacustrine sedimentation system, with subsequent increases in the sedimentation rate and biomass content (total nitrogen and organic carbon). Time series analyses revealed that the lake displayed variability cycles related to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), as reflected by high resolution sedimentological proxies for grain size, weathering, allochthonous inputs from the watershed, increase of biomass and productivity, and changes in redox conditions, all of which displayed similar oscillation cycles from 2 to 6 yr. During this periglacial recession and associated eutrophication process, we detected a striking loss in both bacterial specific richness and diversity as inferred from preliminary selected ancient DNA analyses. Thus, the Antarctic warming scenario leading to glacier depletion appears to exert deterioration consequences on the Subantarctic microbial web.

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