Rationale of the INQUA QuickLakeH project:
Lakes are excellent archives of palaeoenvironmental changes, as they often have a continuous sedimentation. Sedimentation rates are often high and in some cases annual resolution is possible, e.g. when the sediment is laminated or when the age control is robust. Therefore, it is possible to relate the scale of changes to a societal time scale. Humans often settle at proximity of lakes as they are a good source of freshwater and food. When a geohazards or a hydrometeorological hazard occurs, the lacustrine sediment, owing to the possibility to apply multiproxy analyses, is a very good archive of these changes (tephras, high energy layers, mixed layers). Moreover, human activities are often themselves directly recorded in lake sediment itself (indicators of agriculture, pollutants, deforestation). Global warming, rapid past climatic changes and natural hazards have affected in various ways the extent and properties of large water bodies in SW Asia and central Asia, often very dramatically, as lakes and inland seas act as amplifiers of the effects of these forcing. For example, in the last decades, the Aral Sea level has gone catastrophically down with the restriction of the main inflowing rivers; while the Caspian Sea level, at the same time, has gone up for unclear reasons (3 m between 1977 and 1995, 100 times faster than global sea level changes). In many regions, local populations depending on these water sources for drinking or for economical activities have been deeply affected.
Because sea-level variations can greatly affect the surface area of the water bodies, they can also intrude onto the land surface component; and therefore affect not only coastal communities (e.g. fisheries, harbours, transports) but also farmland and urban areas at a distance from the ‘normal’ position of the shores. Global warming, rapid past climatic changes and natural hazards have affected in various ways the extent and properties of large water bodies in SW Asia and central Asia, often very dramatically, as lakes and inland seas act as amplifiers of the effects of these lakes level changes.