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  1. Abstract

    Perspectives on past climate using lake sediments are critical for assessing modern and future climate change. These perspectives are especially important for water-stressed regions such as the western United States. One such region is northwestern California (CA), where Holocene-length hydroclimatic records are scarce. Here, we present a 9000-year, relative lake level record from Maddox Lake (CA) using a multi-indicator approach. The Early Holocene is characterized by variably low lake levels with a brief excursion to wetter climates/relative highstand ca. 8.4–8.06 cal ka BP, possibly related to the 8.2 ka cold event and changing Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). From 5.2–0.55 cal ka BP, Maddox Lake experienced a long-term regression, tracking changes in summer-winter insolation, tropical and northeast Pacific SSTs, and the southward migration of the ITCZ. This gradual regression culminated in a pronounced relative lowstand during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA). A marked relative highstand followed the MCA, correlative to the Little Ice Age. The latter reflects a far-field response to North Atlantic volcanism, solar variability, and possibly changes in AMOC and Arctic sea ice extent. Our results further confirm the hydroclimatic sensitivity of northwest California to various forcings including those emanating from the North Atlantic.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    This study examines the relationship between water depth and diatom assemblages from lake-sediment-surface samples at Kelly Lake, California. A total of 40 surface-sediment samples (integrated upper 5 cm) were taken at various depths within the small (~ 3.74 ha) 5.7 m-deep lake. Secchi depths, water temperature, pH, salinity, conductivity, and total dissolved solids were also measured. Some diatom species showed distinct association with depth (e.g.,Fragilaria crotonensis, Nitzschia semirobusta). The relationship between the complete diatom assemblages and water depth was analyzed and assessed by depth-cluster analysis, a one-way analysis of similarity, principal components analysis and canonical correspondence analysis. Statistically significant differences were found between the assemblages associated with shallow depth (0–1.25 m), mid-depth (1.25–3.75 m), and deep-water (3.75–5.2 m) locations. The relationship between diatom assemblages and lake depth allowed two transfer models to be developed using the Modern Analogue Technique and Weighted Averaging Partial Least Squares. These models were compared and assessed by residual scatter plots. The results indicate that diatom-inferred transfer models based on surface-sediment samples from a single, relatively small and shallow lake can be a useful tool for studying past hydroclimatic variability (e.g., lake depth) from similar lakes in California and other regions where the large number of lakes required for traditional transfer-function development may not exist.

     
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  3. The cause, or causes, of the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions have been difficult to establish, in part because poor spatiotemporal resolution in the fossil record hinders alignment of species disappearances with archeological and environmental data. We obtained 172 new radiocarbon dates on megafauna from Rancho La Brea in California spanning 15.6 to 10.0 thousand calendar years before present (ka). Seven species of extinct megafauna disappeared by 12.9 ka, before the onset of the Younger Dryas. Comparison with high-resolution regional datasets revealed that these disappearances coincided with an ecological state shift that followed aridification and vegetation changes during the Bølling-Allerød (14.69 to 12.89 ka). Time-series modeling implicates large-scale fires as the primary cause of the extirpations, and the catalyst of this state shift may have been mounting human impacts in a drying, warming, and increasingly fire-prone ecosystem.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 18, 2024
  4. Abstract

    Southern California is a biodiversity hotspot and home to over 23 million people. Over recent decades the annual wildfire area in the coastal southern California region has not significantly changed. Yet how fire regime will respond to future anthropogenic climate change remains an important question. Here, we estimate wildfire probability in southern California at station scale and daily resolution using random forest algorithms and downscaled earth system model simulations. We project that large fire days will increase from 36 days/year during 1970–1999 to 58 days/year under moderate greenhouse gas emission scenario (RCP4.5) and 71 days/year by 2070–2099 under a high emission scenario (RCP8.5). The large fire season will be more intense and have an earlier onset and delayed end. Our findings suggest that despite the lack of a contemporary trend in fire regime, projected greenhouse gas emissions will substantially increase the fire danger in southern California by 2099.

     
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Paleoperspectives of climate provide important information for understanding future climate, particularly in arid regions such as California, where water availability is uncertain from year to year. Here, we present a record from Barley Lake, California, focusing on the interval spanning the Younger Dryas (YD) to the early Holocene (EH), a period of acute and rapid global climate change. Twelve radiocarbon dates constrain the timing between 12.9 and 8.1 ka. We combine a variety of sediment analyses to infer changes in lake productivity, relative lake level, and runoff dynamics. In general, the lake is characterized by two states separated by a <200-year transition: (1) a variably deep, lower-productivity YD lake; and (2) a two-part variably shallow, higher-productivity EH lake. Inferred EH winter-precipitation runoff reveals dynamic multidecadal-to-centennial-scale variability, in agreement with the EH lake-level data. The Barley Lake archive captures both hemispheric and regional signals of climate change across the transition, suggesting a role for both ocean-atmosphere and insolation forcing. Our paleoperspective emphasizes California's sensitivity to climate change and how that change can generate abrupt shifts in limnological regimes. 
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  6. A combination of drought and high temperatures (“global-change-type drought”) is projected to become increasingly common in Mediterranean climate regions. Recently, Southern California has experienced record-breaking high temperatures coupled with significant precipitation deficits, which provides opportunities to investigate the impacts of high temperatures on the drought sensitivity of Mediterranean climate vegetation. Responses of different vegetation types to drought are quantified using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data for the period 2000–2017. The contrasting responses of the vegetation types to drought are captured by the correlation and regression coefficients between Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomalies and the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). A novel bootstrapping regression approach is used to decompose the relationships between the vegetation sensitivity (NDVI–PDSI regression slopes) and the principle climate factors (temperature and precipitation) associated with the drought. Significantly increased sensitivity to drought in warmer locations indicates the important role of temperature in exacerbating vulnerability; however, spatial precipitation variations do not demonstrate significant effects in modulating drought sensitivity. Based on annual NDVI response, chaparral is the most vulnerable community to warming, which will probably be severely affected by hotter droughts in the future. Drought sensitivity of coastal sage scrub (CSS) is also shown to be very responsive to warming in fall and winter. Grassland and developed land will likely be less affected by this warming. The sensitivity of the overall vegetation to temperature increases is particularly concerning, as it is the variable that has had the strongest secular trend in recent decades, which is expected to continue or strengthen in the future. Increased temperatures will probably alter vegetation distribution, as well as possibly increase annual grassland cover, and decrease the extent and ecological services provided by perennial woody Mediterranean climate ecosystems as well. 
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  7. Abstract

    Coastal wetlands have two dimensions of vulnerability to sea‐level rise (SLR), a vertical one, in cases where SLR outpaces their capacity to vertically accrete, and a lateral one, in cases where they are restricted from migrating inland by topography and land use. We conducted a meta‐analysis of accretion rates, standardized our analysis by using only137Cs based estimates, and used model intercomparison to generate a vertical resilience index, a function of local SLR, tidal range, and tidal elevation category for the tidal wetlands of the contiguous US. We paired the vertical resilience index with a lateral resilience index made up of elevation, water level, and land cover maps, then projected them both into the future using localized SLR scenarios. At the regional scale, the vertical resilience index predicts changes from marsh aggradation to submergence for the coastal US Mid‐Atlantic, Southeast, and portions of the Northeast by 2100. At the sub‐regional scale, there is a geographic tradeoff between vertical and lateral resilience with more northerly wetlands vulnerable to the lack of suitable proportional area to migrate into, and more southerly wetlands vulnerable to accretion deficit. We estimate between 43% and 48% of the existing contiguous US wetland area, almost entirely located in watersheds along the Gulf of Mexico and Mid‐Atlantic coasts, is subject to both vertical and lateral limitations. These vertical and lateral resilience indices could help direct future research, planning, and mitigation efforts at a national scale, as well as supplement more processed informed approaches by local planners and practitioners.

     
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  8. Northern peatlands have accumulated large stocks of organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), but their spatial distribution and vulnerability to climate warming remain uncertain. Here, we used machine-learning techniques with extensive peat core data ( n > 7,000) to create observation-based maps of northern peatland C and N stocks, and to assess their response to warming and permafrost thaw. We estimate that northern peatlands cover 3.7 ± 0.5 million km 2 and store 415 ± 150 Pg C and 10 ± 7 Pg N. Nearly half of the peatland area and peat C stocks are permafrost affected. Using modeled global warming stabilization scenarios (from 1.5 to 6 °C warming), we project that the current sink of atmospheric C (0.10 ± 0.02 Pg C⋅y −1 ) in northern peatlands will shift to a C source as 0.8 to 1.9 million km 2 of permafrost-affected peatlands thaw. The projected thaw would cause peatland greenhouse gas emissions equal to ∼1% of anthropogenic radiative forcing in this century. The main forcing is from methane emissions (0.7 to 3 Pg cumulative CH 4 -C) with smaller carbon dioxide forcing (1 to 2 Pg CO 2 -C) and minor nitrous oxide losses. We project that initial CO 2 -C losses reverse after ∼200 y, as warming strengthens peatland C-sinks. We project substantial, but highly uncertain, additional losses of peat into fluvial systems of 10 to 30 Pg C and 0.4 to 0.9 Pg N. The combined gaseous and fluvial peatland C loss estimated here adds 30 to 50% onto previous estimates of permafrost-thaw C losses, with southern permafrost regions being the most vulnerable. 
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  9. Abstract

    Paleoenvironmental records from a southern California coastal saltmarsh reveal evidence for repeated late Holocene coseismic subsidence events. Field analysis of sediment gouge cores established discrete lithostratigraphic units extend across the wetland. Detailed sediment analyses reveal abrupt changes in lithology, percent total organic matter, grain size, and magnetic susceptibility. Microfossil analyses indicate that predominantly freshwater deposits bury relic intertidal deposits at three distinct depths. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the three burial events occurred in the last 2000 calendar years. Two of the three events are contemporaneous with large-magnitude paleoearthquakes along the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault system. From these data, we infer that during large magnitude earthquakes a step-over along the fault zone results in the vertical displacement of an approximately 5-km2area that is consistent with the footprint of an estuary identified in pre-development maps. These findings provide insight on the evolution of the saltmarsh, coseismic deformation and earthquake recurrence in a wide area of southern California, and sensitive habitat already threatened by eustatic sea level rise.

     
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