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An uncertainty-focused database approach to extract spatiotemporal trends from qualitative and discontinuous lake-status histories

De Cort, Gijs and Chevalier, Manuel and Burrough, Sallie L. and Chen, Christine Y. and Harrison, Sandy P. (2021) An uncertainty-focused database approach to extract spatiotemporal trends from qualitative and discontinuous lake-status histories. Quaternary Science Reviews, 258 . Art. No. 106870. ISSN 0277-3791.

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Changes in lake status are often interpreted as palaeoclimate indicators due to their dependence on precipitation and evaporation. The Global Lake Status Database (GLSDB) has since long provided a standardised synopsis of qualitative lake status over the last 30,000 ¹⁴C years. Potential sources of uncertainty however are not recorded in the GLSDB. Here we present an updated and improved relational-database framework that incorporates uncertainty in both chronology and the interpretation of palaeoenvironmental data. The database uses peer-reviewed palaeolimnological studies to produce a consensus on qualitative lake-status histories, whose chronologies are revised and standardized through the recalibration of radiocarbon dates and the application of Bayesian age-depth modelling for stratigraphic archives. Quantitative information on absolute water-level elevation is preserved if available from geomorphological sources. We also propose a new probabilistic analytical framework that accounts for these uncertainties to reconstruct synoptic, integrated environmental signals. The process is based on a Monte Carlo algorithm that iteratively samples individual lake-status histories within the limits of their uncertainties to produce many possible scenarios. We then use Recursively-Subtracted Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis to extract dominant patterns of lake-status variability from these scenarios. As a proof of concept, we apply this framework to 67 sites in eastern and southern Africa whose lake-status histories cover part of the late Pleistocene and/or Holocene. We show that, despite the sometimes large temporal and interpretation uncertainties, and the inclusion of highly discontinuous lake-status time series, identifying the major known millennial-scale climatic phases during the last 20,000 years is possible. Our framework was also able to identify an antiphased response between the lake basins in eastern and interior southern Africa to these changes. We propose that our new database and methodology framework serves as a template for efficient lake-status data synthesis, encourages the incorporation of lake-status data in palaeoclimate syntheses, and expands the possibilities for the use of such data in the evaluation of climate models.

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Chen, Christine Y.0000-0002-9580-6925
Additional Information:© 2021 Elsevier. Received 3 September 2020, Revised 22 February 2021, Accepted 23 February 2021, Available online 19 March 2021. GDC acknowledges support from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), the Belgian-American Educational Foundation (BAEF) and Belgian Science Policy Brain-be project BR/121/A2 PAMEXEA (Patterns and mechanisms of climate extremes in East Africa). MC has been funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) through the HORNET project (200021_169598). SLB acknowledges support from the Trapnell Fund, Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. CYC acknowledges financial support from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT. SPH acknowledges funding from the ERC-funded project GC2.0 (Global Change 2.0: Unlocking the past for a clearer future, grant number 694481) and from JPI-Belmont Forum project entitled Palaeoclimate Constraints on Monsoon Evolution and Dynamics (PaCMEDy). We gratefully acknowledge the support of INQUA funding under the project PALCOM 1609 P (Palaeolakes of the Arid Southern Hemisphere). We sincerely thank Bryan N. Shuman, David McGee, Sarah Metcalfe, Maarten Blaauw, Mengna Liao, Bronwyn Dixon, Nicholas Primmer, Luciana Figueiredo Prado and David T. Liefert for constructive discussions on synthesizing lake-status histories. Author contributions: GDC: Project administration, Methodology, Software, Formal analysis, Investigation, Data curation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing, Visualisation. MC: Project administration, Methodology, Software, Investigation, Data curation, Writing – review and editing, Visualisation. SLB: Project administration, Methodology, Investigation, Writing – review and editing. CYC: Project administration, Methodology, Writing – review and editing. SPH: Supervision, Conceptualisation, Methodology, Resources, Writing – review and editing. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO)UNSPECIFIED
Belgian American Educational FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO)BR/121/A2
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)200021_169598
University of OxfordUNSPECIFIED
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)UNSPECIFIED
European Research Council (ERC)694481
INQUA Palaeoclimate Commission (​PALCOM)1609 P
Subject Keywords:Lake status; Lake level; Palaeolimnology; Palaeoclimatology; Relational database; Data uncertainty; Monte Carlo
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210527-093457028
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Official Citation:Gijs De Cort, Manuel Chevalier, Sallie L. Burrough, Christine Y. Chen, Sandy P. Harrison, An uncertainty-focused database approach to extract spatiotemporal trends from qualitative and discontinuous lake-status histories, Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 258, 2021, 106870, ISSN 0277-3791,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109275
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:27 May 2021 21:02
Last Modified:27 May 2021 21:02

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