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The response of diatom assemblages in a Jamaican coastal lagoon to hurricane and drought activity over the past millennium

Heller, CA, Michelutti, N, Burn, MJ, Palmer, SE and Smol, JP (2021) The response of diatom assemblages in a Jamaican coastal lagoon to hurricane and drought activity over the past millennium. Holocene, 31 (9). pp. 1359-1365. ISSN 0959-6836

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Open Access URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/095968362... (Published version)


Reconstructing pre-industrial hurricane activity and aridity from natural archives places modern trends within the context of long-term natural variability. The first reconstruction of Atlantic hurricane activity in Jamaica was based on a sediment record previously obtained from a coastal lagoon. Specifically, an Extended Hurricane Activity (EHA) index was developed from high-resolution geochemical data that linked fluctuations in lake-level changes to rainfall variability associated with hurricane activity. Here, we analyse the same sediment core from which the EHA index was developed to assess the response of biological indicators, namely fossil diatom assemblages and sediment chlorophyll a (chl-a) concentrations, to hydrometeorological events (tropical cyclone-induced precipitation and droughts) over the past ~1500 years. The diatom assemblages responded sensitively to changes in salinity associated with lake-level changes driven by the balance of precipitation and evaporation. Aquatic production (inferred from sediment chl-a, which includes its main diagenetic products) and salinity (inferred from ITRAXTM µXRF chlorine counts) vary inversely following ca. 1300 CE, likely due to enhanced nutrient delivery from freshwater runoff during periods of elevated precipitation. Although the temporal resolution of our biological data is less-well resolved than that of the geochemical record, it generally tracks long-term trends in rainfall variability inferred by the EHA index over the past millennium. This further demonstrates the potential of using biological proxies from coastal lagoons to track past hurricane activity and aridity.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Paleontology; 0403 Geology; 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience; 2101 Archaeology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2022 11:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 11:46
DOI or ID number: 10.1177/09596836211019095
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18125
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