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The late Pleistocene climates of the Lake Zeribar region (Kurdistan, western Iran) deduced from the ecology and pollen production of nonarboreal vegetation

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Abstract

The concept of an arid pleniglacial in the Middle East depends primarily on the interpretation of pollen diagrams including those of Lake Zeribar in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. It has been assumed that Lake Zeribar was surrounded by a Chenopodiaceae-Artemisia steppe and that the climate was therefore dry. Both assumptions are questioned. The environment of Pleistocene Lake Zeribar may have been similar to the tragacanthic or alpine zone of the modern Zagros Mountains. The dominance by pollen of Chenopodiaceae and Artemisia is explained by low pollen production of high-altitude vegetation, preferential incorporation of pollen of late-blooming plants into the sediments, and high production and long-distance transport of lowland pollen. In any case, high percentages of Chenopodiaceae and Artemisia pollen do not necessarily indicate low annual precipitation but a highly seasonal climate with cold winters and hot, dry summers. Such a climatic regime was in effect continuous except for a period beginning about 10600 B. P. during which summer rainfall or reduced summer drought occurred. This change in seasonality resulted in the dominance of Poaceae pollen and the initial increase in arboreal pollen. A moisture curve based on the ratio between Chenopodiaceae and Artemisia pollen indicates a pleniglacial climate with wet winters and a late-glacial and early-Holocene climate with periods of intense aridity. The climatic history presented here is compatible with non-palynological evidence of regional late Pleistocene climates and with seasonality changes suggested by climatic modelling based on orbital parameters.

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Abbreviations

C/A:

Chenopodiaceae-Artemisia ratio

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El-Moslimany, A.P. The late Pleistocene climates of the Lake Zeribar region (Kurdistan, western Iran) deduced from the ecology and pollen production of nonarboreal vegetation. Vegetatio 72, 131–139 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00039834

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