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PLOT – Paleolimnological Transect

The Russian-German PLOT Project is funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and coordinated by the University of Cologne. The project aims at providing a detailed reconstruction of the Late Quaternary environmental and climatic history along a more than 6000 km long transect crossing northern Eurasia, with special focus on the hitherto poorly known preglacial history. 

For this purpose, the potentially very old lakes Ladoga, Bolshoye Shuchye, Levinson-Lessing, Taymyr und Emanda (see map) are investigated by shallow and deep seismic surveys and cored down to 30 m using a new coring device. Consistent stratigraphical, sedimentological, chemical and biological analysis are carried out on the sediment cores, supported by numerical ice sheet and climate modelling, in order to decipher the climatic and environmental development along the transect beyond the Last Glacial Maximum. The sediment succession from Lake El´gygytgyn, which was recovered within the scope of an international deep drilling project, functions as reference.

Lakes to be investigated in the PLOT project

The German contribution to the PLOT project is organised in three subprojects, which aim at (i) the climate and vegetation history, as reflected by the lake sediment composition, (ii) the three-dimensional sediment architecture in three of these lakes, to be deduced by seismic surveys, and (iii) climate history with special emphasis on the water cycle, as reflected by stable isotopes in diatoms and numerical modelling. These subprojects are run by the University of Cologne, the University of Kiel, and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Potsdam and Bremerhaven, respectively.

The results promise a significantly improved understanding of the climatic and environmental responses to external impacts and complex feedback mechanisms in the climate system. Thereby fundamental data are generated that support predictions of the climatic and environmental development in the Arctic in the near future, which are of great importance both for global heat and mass transport and for regional socio-economical developments.

The PLOT project commenced in April 2013. As a first step, a pilot study, funded until March 2014, was conducted on Lake Ladoga close to St. Petersburg. There, seismic profiling and sediment coring was carried out, confirming the progress made by new technical developments for the project and evidencing the preservation of undisturbed preglacial sediments in this lake. The main activities of the PLOT project are funded from Nov. 2015 to Oct. 2018.