Multiproxy Records of Indo-Pacific Climate and Environmental Change from Lake Towuti, Indonesia, Since 60 Kyr BP
Abstract:Lake Towuti is a large tectonic lake in central Sulawesi, Indonesia that provides a unique opportunity to reconstruct climate and terrestrial environments in the heart of the Indo-Pacific warm pool. Long-term climate variations in this region are governed by a complex interplay between the Australasian monsoons and the ENSO system forced by changing insolation, sea level, ice sheets, and greenhouse gas concentrations. Existing reconstructions suggest heterogeneous responses of Indonesian climate to these forcings, highlighting the need for new long records of regional hydrology.
We have developed multiproxy datasets from Lake Towuti and nearby lakes that provide continuous, detailed, and reproducible paleoenvironmental records spanning the past 60 kyr BP. Elemental tracers of terrestrial runoff and compound-specific stable isotope records of vegetation show that wet conditions and rainforest ecosystems persisted during Marine Isotope Stage 3 and the Holocene, and were interrupted by severe drying between 33 and 15 kyr BP when high-latitude ice sheets expanded and global temperatures cooled. This chronology of change implies that central Indonesian hydroclimate varies strongly in response to high-latitude climate forcing. New vegetation records from nearby lakes confirm these findings, but suggest the amplitude of glacial-interglacial changes in vegetation were weaker at high altitude, with important implications for the heterogeneity among Indonesian climate reconstructions. New lithologic and trace element records from Lake Towuti further document the significance of climate changes at the MIS3, 2, and 1 boundaries to Lake Towuti’s paleolimnology, heat budget, and seasonal mixing.
High-resolution seismic reflection data from Lake Towuti constrain the maximum depth of lake level lowstands during MIS2. Hydrological modeling suggests that precipitation was reduced by at least 50% at that time, an amplitude at or above the upper limits of precipitation changes simulated by global climate models forced with MIS2 boundary conditions. These findings suggest that changes in regional precipitation were accompanied by large increases in evaporation, requiring large reductions in cloud cover and humidity and providing new constraint on these hitherto unstudied climate variables.