Multi-proxy record of Holocene paleoenvironmental conditions from Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming, USA

Sabrina R. Brown, Rosine Cartier, Christopher M. Schiller, Petra Zahajská, Sherilyn C. Fritz, Lisa A. Morgan, Cathy Whitlock, Daniel J. Conley, Jack H. Lacey, Melanie J. Leng, W. C.Pat Shanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A composite 11.82 m-long (9876–67 cal yr BP) sediment record from Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming was analyzed using a robust set of biological and geochemical proxies to investigate the paleoenvironmental evolution of the lake and its catchment in response to long-term climate forcing. Oxygen isotopes from diatom frustules were analyzed to reconstruct Holocene climate changes, and pollen, charcoal, diatom assemblages, and biogenic silica provided information on terrestrial and limnological responses. The long-term trends recorded in the terrestrial and limnic ecosystems over the last 9800 years reflect the influence of changes in the amplification of the seasonal cycle of insolation on regional climate. The early Holocene (9880–6700 cal yr BP) summer insolation maximum and strengthening of the northeastern Pacific subtropical high-pressure system created warm dry conditions and decreasing summer insolation in the middle (6700–3000 cal yr BP) and late (3000–67 cal yr BP) Holocene resulted in progressively cooler, wetter conditions. Submillenial climate variation is also apparent, with a wetter/cooler interval between 7000 and 6800 cal yr BP and warmer and/or drier conditions from 4500 to 3000 cal yr BP and at ca. 1100 cal yr BP. These data show that the Yellowstone Lake basin had a climate history typical of a summer-dry region, which helps to better define the spatial variability of Holocene climate in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107275
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Dec 15 2021


  • Biogenic silica
  • Charcoal
  • Diatoms
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Paleoclimate
  • Pollen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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