Detailed diatom records from a 140-m sediment core with a time resolution of approximately 1000-1500 yr were obtained from Lake Biwa to examine possible correlations between diatom concentrations and paleoclimatic changes during the last approximately 400 ka. In the sediments, the diatom assemblages are generally dominated by planktonic diatoms. The diatom stratigraphy is characterized by four zones with distinctly higher concentration values and 12 horizons with low concentration values. Diatom records from the 140-m core and another core indicate that these changes were not local phenomena, but occurred throughout the lake basin. Comparison of diatom concentration records with pollen records from Lake Biwa sediments indicates that higher diatom concentrations represent warmer and wetter climatic conditions, and that lower concentrations represent colder and drier climatic conditions. Comparison of diatom records from Lake Biwa with marine oxygen isotopic records shows that the number of peaks and their relative amplitudes are similar in both profiles; therefore, peaks and drops in diatom concentration profile might correlate with most oxygen isotopic events. This finding indicates that during approximately the last 400 ka, the changes in diatom concentration, represented as diatom productivity in Lake Biwa, correlate closely with global paleoclimatic changes at the scale of the Milankovitch cycle (precession cycles of 23 and 19 ka), and that diatom concentration was higher during warm events and lower during cold or cooling events.
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