Global, regional and local factors...

Global, regional and local factors determining the palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental record in the Ukrainian loess-soil sequences along the Dnieper valley - from the proximal areas to the distal periglacial zone



Our grant at ResearchGate

Research project objectives: The aim of this study is to reconstruct the Pleistocene paleogeographic transformations recorded in the sequence of terrestrial deposits, mainly loess, commonly occurring along the Ukrainian section of the Dnieper River valley (52oN-46oN). Based on field studies, laboratory analyzes and digital GIS modelling, we plan to reconstruct the course and establish the chronology of Pleistocene climate changes, and to carry out palaeoenvironment reconstructions along the Ukrainian stretch of the Dnieper River valley. Located on the border of Central and Eastern Europe, this area is important for understanding the climate-forming mechanisms since it is a zone where the influence of the North Atlantic circulation loses its dominance while continental air masses from northern Asia and diverse circulation from the Black Sea and Asia Minor regions become more influential.

We expect to recreate climatic–environmental changes in a stratigraphic–spatial system, and to find answers to the following questions: a) what local and regional factors (and where) balanced each other along the Dnieper valley in various cold periods and depending on the distance from the ice sheet?; b) what was the role and significance of these factors in the individual warm periods? We plan to investigate these problems in various locations taking into account the types, degree of complexity (multitude of superimposed phases) of pedogenesis. With such a definition of partial objectives of the study, the submitted project has both methodical and cognitive significance because the final result will be: a) recognition of the role of factors (from local to global) in the process of forming individual units of loess-soil sequences; b) reconstruction and environmental characteristics of the Pleistocene paleolandscape zones, which were crossed by the Dnieper River valley, and c) determining the scale of displacement of these zones due to climate change.

Research project methodology 

A total of 19 sites (geological sections) located along the Dnieper valley, on both sides of the river, have been selected. The sections are representative of the basic geomorphological situations. Sites (grouped in pairs) are located in opposite palaeoenvironmental situations (valley–neighbouring watershed) on the right and left bank of the Dnieper River valley, and distributed at set intervals along this valley, from the loess islands (in the north) to the Black Sea seaside with continuous loess cover (in the south). The sites chosen for investigation do not include loess with distinct slope sediment redeposition (elimination of the topographic factor) and with cryogenic disruptions (elimination of secondary diagenetic modifications). Comparative studies of the individual pairs of loess sections will make it possible to analyse and distinguish the influence of intra-zonal factors of varying scale on the palaeoclimatic record contained in them, which is significant for reliable stratigraphic conclusions, particularly the accuracy of inter-regional correlations. We want to examine these relationships along the entire longitudinal span of the transect indicated.

Some investigations will be carried out in the field (sedimentological analysis, paleopedological, and magnetic susceptibility analyses). Densely taken samples will be subjected to laboratory analyses (lithological, geochemical, micromorphological, paleobotanical, paleomagnetic, colorimetric and dating). The above-mentioned research methods will be complemented by GIS modelling, focusing on the issues of reconstruction of Pleistocene palaeoenvironments in the Dnieper River valley and adjacent regions.

The proposed project is a joint initiative of Polish and Ukrainian researchers, conducting field research does not require special permissions.

Expected impact of the research project on the development of science

Palaeoclimatic reconstructions and forecasting are a relevant research trend in view of the dynamic climate changes today. Palaeoclimatic archives like the loess-palaeosols sequences undoubtedly need further development of methodology of scientific studies that allow us to extract all information about factors forming the past climate. The methodology proposed here will provide a new and precise data allowing us more accurate and credible climate reconstructions in this part of Europe. Development of any human communities in any places of the world has been influenced by climate. Study of its changes helps us to understand conditions of spatial and temporal development of civilizations and communities. Broadening the knowledge about the determinants of climate variability in the Pleistocene will be an excellent starting point to look for an explanation of the uneven distribution of Palaeolithic communities in Europe and a discussion of its influence on migration. It is of great importance especially today when the problem of global warming is widely discussed.

Our publications:

  • Mroczek P., Łanczont M., Gozhik P., Komar M., Nawrocki J., Hołub B., Standzikowski K., Bogucki A., 2020. Lithology of L1 loess on the northern edge of European loess in the Upper Dnieper River Basin. [In:] Sobczyk A., Ratajczak-Skrzatek U., Kasprzak M., Kotowski A., Marciszak A., Stefaniak K. (Eds.), Conference Proceedings INQUA, 28th September 2020, Quaternary Stratigraphy – palaeoenvironment, sediments, palaeofauna and human migrations across Central Europe, 90-90.
  • Mroczek P., Łanczont M., Komar M., Hołub B., Gozhik P., Nawrocki J. 2021. High-resolution color variations of Weichselian loess-palaeosol sequences in the Dnieper River basin (Ukraine), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15181, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15181.

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