Summer temperature development 18,000–14,000 cal. BP recorded by a new chironomid record from Burgäschisee, Swiss Plateau

Bolland, Alexander; Rey, Fabian; Gobet, Erika; Tinner, Willy; Heiri, Oliver (2020). Summer temperature development 18,000–14,000 cal. BP recorded by a new chironomid record from Burgäschisee, Swiss Plateau. Quaternary science reviews, 243, p. 106484. Elsevier 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106484

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The termination of the Last Ice Age after the Last Glacial maximum (LGM) represents a dynamic period in the history of the circum-north Atlantic region. So far, there are few reliably dated climatic reconstructions covering the Lateglacial period prior to 14,700 cal. BP in Central and Northern Europe. We present a new chironomid record for the period 18,000–14,000 cal. BP, from Burgäschisee, Switzerland. Chironomid assemblages immediately following glacier retreat were dominated by taxa indicative of cold, oligotrophic conditions such as Sergentia coracina -type and Micropsectra radialis -type. A gradual transition to assemblages with moderate abundances of taxa indicative of warmer climatic conditions such as Dicrotendipes nevosus -type and Tanytarsus glabrescens -type started after ca. 16,100 cal. BP. This initial and gradual chironomid assemblage shift culminated in a more pronounced and rapid inferred temperature change at the Oldest Dryas/Bølling transition at ca. 14,700 cal. BP, where further types indicative of warm conditions such as Tanytarsus lactescens -type first occurred and replaced chironomids indicative of colder conditions such as Paracladius and Protanypus. We estimated past July air temperature changes from the chironomid assemblages by applying to the record a chironomid-temperature transfer function that is based on chironomid distribution data from 274 lakes in Switzerland and Norway. The resulting reconstruction, which features a sample-specific root mean square error of prediction of 1.36–1.46 °C, indicates temperatures around 9 °C at the beginning of the record. An initial gradual warming phase initiating at ca. 16,100 cal. BP is recorded reaching values around 10 °C for the period 16,100–15,500 cal. BP. Temperatures continue to increase reaching values around 12 °C for the period preceding the Bølling warming, when temperatures rose rapidly to values around 15 °C. The early temperature rise to values of 10–12 °C prior to the Bølling warming agrees with widespread vegetation changes recently reported for this region based on palaeobotanical analyses, which indicate a shift from herbaceous tundra to shrub tundra with low density tree birch stands with open canopies. Together, these results suggest an earlier Lateglacial temperature increase in southwest Central Europe than expected based on earlier palaeobotanical reconstructions, although with a less pronounced warming than has been reported for ca. 16,000 cal. BP from south of the Alps. This early Lateglacial warming agrees with glacier reconstructions which suggest several step-wise reductions of glacier extent in this period as well as with evidence from other palaeotemperature reconstructions and suggests that not only Southern Europe but significant parts of Europe north of the Alps may have been characterized by early Lateglacial warming well before the rapid warming at ca. 14,700 cal. BP.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Bolland, Alexander William; Rey, Fabian; Gobet, Erika; Tinner, Willy and Heiri, Oliver


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)








Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

14 Aug 2020 14:51

Last Modified:

24 Feb 2021 07:18

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

chironomids; palaeoecology; palaeolimate; temperature; lateglacial; afforestation




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