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Hydrologic control on the oxygen-isotope relation between sediment cellulose and lake water, western Taimyr Peninsula, Russia: Implications for the use of surface-sediment calibrations in paleolimnology


Systematic variability occurs between the oxygen isotopic composition of lake water sampled in mid-summer 1993 and cellulose extracted from surficial sediments of a suite of lakes spanning the forest-tundra transition near Noril'sk, Russia. Some tundra and all forest-tundra lakes show greater deviation from expected cellulose-water isotopic separation than forest lakes, apparently because of greater sensitivity to 18O-depleted snowmelt contributions. Cellulose derived from aquatic plants naturally integrates fluctuations in lake water δ18O, providing a signal that is inherently more representative of average thaw season lake water δ18O than the measure of instantaneous δ18O obtained from an individual sample of lake water. Thus, indiscriminate use of empirical cellulose-water relations derived from ‘calibration’ samples could lead to erroneous assessment of paleohydrology from the oxygen-isotope stratigraphy of sediment cores from arctic lakes. However, deviation from the expected cellulose-water fractionation is a source of lake-specific hydrologic information useful for qualifying paleoenvironmental interpretations and possibly constraining non-isotopic methods that rely on surface-sediment calibrations.