Environmental Change Reconstruction Laboratory

...all that happens today is the product of what happened yesterday.


On March 21-22 Paleolimnology Session was held at the Pomeranian University in Słupsk. This year, the main topic was: Freshwater ecosystems – changes and stressors on the time scale. Our lab presented three posters about ongoing research in northern Poland.

Varve structure and chronology of the sediments of Lake Gorzyńskie (Poland NW)
Maria Kril, Alicja Bonk, Wojciech Tylmann

Impact of fires on functioning of Lake Holzmaar
Alicja Bonk, Stella Birlo, Bernd Zolitschka

Primary evaluation of water quality changes in Lake Priamy based on diatom analyses
Iwona Bubak, Alicja Bonk


In the paper published in Science Advances, we present a detailed study of microplastics deposition history in three lakes located in Latvia. We found microplastic particles in all sites and in sediments much older than 1950. Depending on particles’ aspect ratio, less elongated particles were found deeper, while more elongated particles and fibers have reduced mobility. We conclude that interpretation of microplastics distribution in the studied sediment profiles is ambiguous and does not strictly indicate the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch. The study was designed and coordinated by our colleagues from Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology, Riga. Happy reading!

Dimante-Deimantovica I., Saarni S., Barone M., Buhhalko N., Stivrins N., Suhareva N., Tylmann W., Vianello A., Vollertsen J. 2024. Downward migrating microplastics in lake sediments are a tricky indicator for the onset of the Anthropocene. Science Advances, 10: eadi8136. DOI 10.1126/sciadv.adi8136. LINK


Between December 11th and 15th, the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) took place in San Francisco. AGU is the largest conference of its kind in the world, with an average attendance of over 25,000 participants from around the globe each year. Representing us this year was Maurycy Żarczyński, who actively participated in the conference. He presented two posters and co-authored two additional presentations.

Żarczyński M., Jiménez-Moreno G., Anderson R.S., Fawcett P.J., Staley S.E, Markgraf V., McKay N., Kaufman D.S., 2023, A Novel Perspective on the American Southwest Hydroclimate Over the Last 130k Years: A High-Resolution, Hyperspectral Record of Aquatic Productivity and Lake Level Changes From Stoneman Lake (Arizona), AGU Fall Meeting 2023, San Francisco, USA, 11–15.12.2023.

Żarczyński M., Tsitelashvili N., Tylmann W., Trapaidze V., Kril M., 2023, A Millennium in the High Caucasus: A High-Resolution, Multiproxy Investigation of Lake Kelitsadi (Georgia, Europe) During the Last 1000 Years, AGU Fall Meeting 2023, San Francisco, USA, 11–15.12.2023.

Marshall L., Kaufman D.S., Bigelow N.H., Cohen E.C., Damon B.M., Finney B., Medina M.J., Schuur E., Żarczyński M., 2023, A 15,600 Year Record of Productivity and Environmental Change in Eight Mile Lake and its Watershed, Central Alaska, AGU Fall Meeting 2023, San Francisco, USA, 11–15.12.2023.

McKay N., Kaufman D.S., Arcusa S., Edge D., Erb M.P., Hancock C., Rose Kolus H., Routson C., Żarczyński M., Marshall L., Roberts G., Telles F., 2023, The 4.2 ka Event is not Remarkable in the Context of Century-Scale Holocene Climate Variability, AGU Fall Meeting 2023, San Francisco, USA, 11–15.12.2023.


In November 2023, Wojtek Tylmann participated in a field expedition to southern Australia as part of the project “Regional reconstruction of water availability to extend instrumental hydroclimatic records into the Late Holocene – a high-resolution investigation of calendar-year-dated natural archives from maar lakes in the Newer Volcanic Province, south-eastern Australia.” The project is led by Bernd Zolitschka from the University of Bremen, with Jonathan Tyler from the University of Adelaide serving as the Australian partner. The three-week expedition aimed to collect sediment cores from volcanic lakes in the Newer Volcanic Province. These crater lakes have the potential to become important sites for better understanding climate changes in the southern hemisphere. The ongoing project focuses on the initial examination of sediments from several lakes to select the most promising site for reconstructing environmental changes over the last several thousand years. The Paleoenvironmental Research Laboratory is a partner in the project and will be responsible for determining the age of the collected sediments.


In this new paper published in The Holocene Ala Bonk and coauthors present the vegetation change and wildfire occurrence over the last 3,000 years in the Lubusz Land (western Poland). The research, based on annually laminated sediments of Lake Lubińskie, showed that human activity was a major trigger for the observed changes. Happy reading!

Bonk A., Makohonienko M., Tylmann W. Online first. Human-induced fires and land-use change in Lubusz Land (western Poland) derived from Lake Lubińskie sedimentary record. The Holocene. DOI 10.1177/09596836231211818. LINK


In this study, a peat core from Beerberg (Thuringia) was analyzed to (a) characterize the vegetation dynamics during the late Holocene and (b) evaluate to what extent the inclusion of multiple proxies, specifically pollen, plant macrofossils, and biomarkers, contributes to a deeper understanding of those dynamics and interaction among factors. The combination of pollen and macrofossil analyses with the elemental and biomarker analyses enabled better understanding of the site development as these proxies added valuable additional information, including the occurrence of climatic variations, such as the Little Ice Age, and more recent disturbances, such as drainage. Happy reading!

Thomas C.L., Jansen B., Czerwiński S., Gałka M., Knorr K-H., Emiel van Loon E., Egli M., Wiesenberg G.L.B. 2023. Comparison of paleobotanical and biomarker records of mountain peatland and forest ecosystem dynamics over the last 2600 years in central Germany. Biogeosciences, 20: 4893-4914. DOI 10.5194/bg-20-4893-2023. LINK


In this new paper published in Earth System Science Data we present a dataset of a decade-long monitoring project of Lake Żabińskie. Monitoring was carried out in the years 2012-2021 using sediment traps, limnological and hydrochemical measurements, and meteorological data were also used. This work is a truly collective effort of our team. Happy reading!

Tylmann W., Bonk A., Borowiak D., Głowacka P., Nowiński K., Piłczyńska J., Szczerba A., Żarczyński M. 2023. Investigating limnological processes and modern sedimentation at Lake Żabińskie, northeast Poland: a decade-long multi-variable dataset, 2012–2021. Earth System Science Data, 15: 5093–5103. DOI 10.5194/essd-15-5093-2023. LINK


On October 13, 2023, Agnieszka Szczerba was awarded a PhD degree with distinction after the public defense of the dissertation „Tracking climate signals in lakes of northeastern Poland: modern sedimentation studies using chrysophyte cysts and diatoms”. The PhD thesis is the result of several years of research carried out as part of the NCN project 2015/18/E/ST10/00325. Congratulations!


The polarizing microscope with photometer and TIDAS system was installed at our laboratory. It will be used to measure charcoal reflectance, which will help to develop the method. The first measurements are planned as soon as November 2023! The purchase of the microscope was possible thanks to a grant led by Ala Bonk and financed by the National Science Centre, Poland (grant no 2021/43/D/ST10/000212).


Another paper presenting the results of our monitoring of Lake Żabińskie has just been published in Freshwater Biology. Research done by Agnieszka Szczerba explores the relationships between seasonal changes in meteorological conditions and diatom / chrysophyte cyst communities. Monitoring was carried out using sediment traps, limnological and hydrochemical measurements, and meteorological data were also used. The work was done in cooperation with Sergi Pla-Rabes (CREAF, Barcelona). Happy reading!

Szczerba A., Pla-Rabes S., Tylmann W. 2023. Control of diatom and chrysophyte cyst dynamics by a meteorologically driven mixing regime in eutrophic Lake Żabińskie, northern Poland. Freshwater Biology, 68: 1503–1517. DOI 10.1111/fwb.14144. LINK


The 21st INQUA Congress was held in Rome, Italy, in the days 14-20 July. We coauthored two presentations shown by our colleagues from Switzerland and Romania:

Evidence for natural lake anoxia events during abrupt climate change in the last 130 ka in Eurasia
Zahajská P., Schouten S.J., Schmidhauser N., Zander P.D., Sirocko F., Zolitschka B., Garcia M.L., Tjallingii R., Zhou X., Lami A., Vogel H., Stebich M., Tylmann W., Grosjean M.

Two millennia of fire activity: influence of climate and people in a peat-bog from Western Romanian Carpathians
Haliuc A., Bonk A., Magyari E., Korponai J., Gogaltan F., Stache A., Longman J., Veres D.


The M4 Tornado micro-XRF spectrometer was installed in the laboratory of our department. It will be used primarily to analyze the chemical composition of impregnated sediment samples at a very high spatial resolution. The first analyzes are planned for autumn 2023, after test measurements have been carried out. We invite anyone willing to cooperate!


On 19-23 of June, Alicja Bonk and Wojciech Tylmann visited the University of Bremen in Germany. Thanks to cooperation with Prof. Bernd Zolitschka, we scanned two lake sediment cores using XRF scanner and sampled Lake Holzmaar sediment profile. Obtained results are part of the NCN grant (2021/43/D/ST10/00212) lead by Ala.
In free time, we had a chance to visit the old town, say hallo to the Town Musicians of Bremen, and enjoy the walk along the Weser River.


The 36th International Meeting of Sedimentology took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia between June 12-16. Alicja Bonk participated in this event and presented two posters about our ongoing research.

Limnological responses to human activity: an example of varved record of Lake Lubińskie (western Poland)
Bonk A., Piotrowska N., Żarczyński M., Enters D., Makohonienko M., Rzodkiewicz M., Tylmann W.

Are diatoms and chrysophyte cysts reliable indicators of meteorological conditions? A case study from eutrophic Lake Żabińskie, northeastern Poland
Agnieszka Szczerba, Alicja Bonk, Sergi Pla-Rabes, Wojciech Tylmann


On May 17-19, the 14th International Conference “Methods of Absolute Chronology” was held in Gliwice, Poland. Wojciech Tylmann was invited to give a keynote and we also presented two posters about our ongoing research

From modern sedimentation processes to Holocene-long timescales: a long way to robust chronologies for lake sediments
Wojciech Tylmann

210Pb and 137Cs dating of recent sediments from crater lakes in Mexico
Wojciech Tylmann, Paweł Etmański, Isabel Israde, Reza Safaierad, Marttiina Rantala, Nathalie Fagel

Carbonates isotopic response on physical and chemical condition of water for 50 Polish lakes”
Alicja Ustrzycka, Natalia Piotrowska, Denis Didier Rousseau, Konrad Kaczmarek, Alicja Bonk, Wojciech Tylmann, Janusz Filipiak