SEGH Articles

Multiproxy climate reconstruction from raised bog deposits along the West Coast of the British Isles

01 August 2011
Anke Kuttner was Runner up for the Springer / Hemphill Prize for Student Poster presentation at SEGH 2011 in Ormskirk, UK.

Raised peat bogs are closely coupled to the atmosphere and oceans due to their ombrotrophic state. They record variations within the peat layers and accumulate at a high rate (~5/10 years cm-1) offering reliable, high resolution palaeoenvironmental archives. Their archive records can be reconstructed using a range of techniques. In the past palaeoclimate reconstructions were commonly based on either biological or geochemical data. There are, however, problems such as preservation and mobility respectively associated with each of these techniques. Combining biological and geochemical tools can compensate for such weaknesses and help gain a more accurate picture of past palaeoclimate changes. However, few studies to date have embraced the advances of genuine multiproxy analyses.

The objective of our study conducted at the University of Aberdeen is to apply biological and geochemical proxies together to gain an improved understanding of past climate change. We aim to explore potential correlations between wet as well as dry indicators of either proxy type.

We are studying three different sites along the West coast of the British Isles with varying degrees of exposure to the North Atlantic. The first site, Tyndrain, is located in the Northwest of Wales in the Snowdonia National Park. The depth of the deposit is up to 4 m with the raised phase starting around 2.50 m. This depicts the change from minerotrophic (groundwater influence) to ombrotrophic (atmospheric influence only).

The other sites are Annaholty, a raised bog deposit in Clare, SW Ireland, and Raeburn Flow, a deposit on the Solway Firth, S Scotland.

 For biological data we look at plant macrofossils, using the Quadrat & Leaf Count technique as well as Testate amoebae specimen counts. As geochemical proxies we investigate the distribution of lithogenic versus marine derived elements as well as anthropogenic elements. Chronologies are based on 14C and 210Pb dating.


The first results for Tyndrain show that the botanical and geochemical fen-bog transition are located at different depths in the profile. The geochemical transition is distinctively higher up. We can however, pick up a big shift in all proxies around ~2800 cal BP. This coincides well with a wetshift recognisable in numerous deposits all over the world.

As for the desired correlations, we have contradicting results. However, it is possible to see some matching peaks for the various proxies in terms of wetshifts and droughts throughout the profile. An important factor influencing the distribution of lithogenic elements and their interpretation is land use.

 Our palaeoclimate reconstructions for the Tyndrain raised bog deposit show that analysing just one proxy may mask changes in bog surface wetness. However, combining biological and geochemical data can improve insight as well as raise more questions. It is therefore crucial to conduct more studies to determine consistent patterns.

Furthermore, one important denouement is that even within relatively short distances there can be high intrasite variability within peat bog ecosystems.

Anke Küttner, Dmitri Mauqouy, Tim Mighall, Eva Krupp, College of Physical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.

Keep up to date

SEGH Events

Submit Content

Members can keep in touch with their colleagues through short news and events articles of interest to the SEGH community.

Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Characteristics of PM 2.5 , CO 2 and particle-number concentration in mass transit railway carriages in Hong Kong 2017-08-01


    Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and particle-number concentrations (PNC) were monitored in train carriages on seven routes of the mass transit railway in Hong Kong between March and May 2014, using real-time monitoring instruments. The 8-h average PM2.5 levels in carriages on the seven routes ranged from 24.1 to 49.8 µg/m3, higher than levels in Finland and similar to those in New York, and in most cases exceeding the standard set by the World Health Organisation (25 µg/m3). The CO2 concentration ranged from 714 to 1801 ppm on four of the routes, generally exceeding indoor air quality guidelines (1000 ppm over 8 h) and reaching levels as high as those in Beijing. PNC ranged from 1506 to 11,570 particles/cm3, lower than readings in Sydney and higher than readings in Taipei. Correlation analysis indicated that the number of passengers in a given carriage did not affect the PM2.5 concentration or PNC in the carriage. However, a significant positive correlation (p < 0.001, R 2 = 0.834) was observed between passenger numbers and CO2 levels, with each passenger contributing approximately 7.7–9.8 ppm of CO2. The real-time measurements of PM2.5 and PNC varied considerably, rising when carriage doors opened on arrival at a station and when passengers inside the carriage were more active. This suggests that air pollutants outside the train and passenger movements may contribute to PM2.5 levels and PNC. Assessment of the risk associated with PM2.5 exposure revealed that children are most severely affected by PM2.5 pollution, followed in order by juveniles, adults and the elderly. In addition, females were found to be more vulnerable to PM2.5 pollution than males (p < 0.001), and different subway lines were associated with different levels of risk.

  • Comparison of chemical compositions in air particulate matter during summer and winter in Beijing, China 2017-08-01


    The development of industry in Beijing, the capital of China, particularly in last decades, has caused severe environmental pollution including particulate matter (PM), dust–haze, and photochemical smog, which has already caused considerable harm to local ecological environment. Thus, in this study, air particle samples were continuously collected in August and December, 2014. And elements (Si, Al, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Mo, Cd, Ba, Pb and Ti) and ions ( \({\text{NO}}_{3}^{-}\) , \({\text{SO}}_{4}^{2-}\) , F, Cl, Na+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+ and \({\text{NH}}_{4}^{+}\) ) were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer and ion chromatography. According to seasonal changes, discuss the various pollution situations in order to find possible particulate matter sources and then propose appropriate control strategies to local government. The results indicated serious PM and metallic pollution in some sampling days, especially in December. Chemical Mass Balance model revealed central heating activities, road dust and vehicles contribute as main sources, account for 5.84–32.05 % differently to the summer and winter air pollution in 2014.

  • Annual ambient atmospheric mercury speciation measurement from Longjing, a rural site in Taiwan 2017-08-01


    The main purpose of this study was to monitor ambient air particulates and mercury species [RGM, Hg(p), GEM and total mercury] concentrations and dry depositions over rural area at Longjing in central Taiwan during October 2014 to September 2015. In addition, passive air sampler and knife-edge surrogate surface samplers were used to collect the ambient air mercury species concentrations and dry depositions, respectively, in this study. Moreover, direct mercury analyzer was directly used to detect the mercury Hg(p) and RGM concentrations. The result indicated that: (1) The average highest RGM, Hg(p), GEM and total mercury concentrations, and dry depositions were observed in January, prevailing dust storm occurred in winter season was the possible major reason responsible for the above findings. (2) The highest average RGM, Hg(p), GEM and total mercury concentrations, dry depositions and velocities were occurred in winter. This is because that China is the largest atmospheric mercury (Hg) emitter in the world. Its Hg emissions and environmental impacts need to be evaluated. (3) The results indicated that the total mercury ratios of Kaohsiung to that of this study were 5.61. This is because that Kaohsiung has the largest industry density (~60 %) in Taiwan. (4) the USA showed average lower mercury species concentrations when compared to those of the other world countries. The average ratios of China/USA values were 89, 76 and 160 for total mercury, RGM and Hg(p), respectively, during the years of 2000–2012.