Climate Evolution in Central Asia during the Past Few Million Years: A Case Study from Issyk Kul

Startdate: 12 June, 2011
Enddate: 17 June, 2011

Status: completed

The lake Issyk Kul occupies a deep basin within the Earth’s most active intracontinental mountain belt, the Tien Shan, far from any oceanic influence. It offers a record of continental climate spanning millions of years that is likely unmatched by any other source. A three-day workshop, with the same title as this report and sponsored by the International Continental Drilling Project and German Science Foundation, was held on 12–17 June 2011 on the shore of Issyk Kul to discuss the scientific justification for and the logistical aspects of scientific drilling of the lake. A two-day geological field trip followed the workshop. Forty-five scientists from twelve countries discussed three obvious targets for paleoclimatic study, a related study of erosion, and a study of how microbial life has evolved within the basin. The conclusion was that these research topics justify further consideration of deep continental drilling at Issyk Kul.
The premise underlying the paleoclimate questions is that climates within continents need not follow that recorded by, and studied well with, marine sediment. A particularly clear example is that glaciation within alpine settings is not synchronized with that of continental ice sheets; maximum advances of alpine glaciers in many regions precede the last glacial maximum (LGM) at ~20 kyr BP.
The major outcome of the meeting was the identification of two drilling targets: one within the lake that would reach as deep into Quaternary time as possible and certainly as far as 100 kyr BP, and a second on shore that could penetrate sediment as old as 6–10 Ma.


Related Publications

Oberhänsli, H., Molnar, P. (2012). "Climate Evolution in Central Asia during the Past Few Million Years: A Case Study from Issyk Kul" Sci. Dril. p51-57