Advances in understanding the late Holocene history of the Aral Sea region

Ian Boomer, B Wuennemann, AW Mackay, P Austin, P Sorrel, C Reinhardt, D Keyser, F Guichard, M Fontugne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Citations (Scopus)


Until recently, little attention has been devoted to palaeoclimate records in western Central Asia although the potential for improving our understanding of the connections between local and regional climate changes in this region is high. The location of the Aral Sea in the heart of western Central Asia offers a unique opportunity to scrutinise palaeoenvironmental changes during the Holocene, and particularly over the last few thousand years, in a region that is dominated by a continental climate regime and is relatively isolated from the monsoons to the south and southeast. Aral Sea sediments provide an excellent opportunity for high-resolution studies of past climatic and hydrological changes in the catchment area. We review recent palaeoenvironmental work in the region and focus on recent investigations on core material from the Aral Sea that details marked 'sea level' oscillations over the past ca. 2000 years as the Aral responded to local climate forcing. Furthermore, archaeological and digital terrain modelling reveal that the previously proposed mid-Holocene highstand of the Aral Sea at 72-73 m a.s.l. cannot have been achieved, a revised Holocene highstand is set at about 54 55m a.s.l. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-90
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009


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