Evidence for cooler European summers during periods of changing meltwater flux to the North Atlantic

Heiri, Oliver; Tinner, Willy; Lotter, André F. (2004). Evidence for cooler European summers during periods of changing meltwater flux to the North Atlantic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 101(43), pp. 15285-15288. National Academy of Sciences NAS 10.1073/pnas.0406594101

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We analyzed fossil chironomids (nonbiting midges) and pollen in two lake-sediment records to reconstruct and quantify Holocene summer-temperature fluctuations in the European Alps. Chironomid and pollen records indicate five centennial-scale cooling episodes during the early- and mid-Holocene. The strongest temperature declines of ≈1°C are inferred at ≈10,700–10,500 and 8,200–7,600 calibrated 14C years B.P., whereas other temperature fluctuations are of smaller amplitude. Two forcing mechanisms have been presented recently to explain centennial-scale climate variability in Europe during the early- and mid-Holocene, both involving changes in Atlantic thermohaline circulation. In the first mechanism, changes in meltwater flux from the North American continent to the North Atlantic are responsible for changes in the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, thereby affecting circum-Atlantic climate. In the second mechanism, solar variability is the cause of Holocene climatic fluctuations, possibly triggering changes in Atlantic thermohaline overturning. Within their dating uncertainty, the two major cooling periods in the European Alps are coeval with substantial changes in the routing of North American freshwater runoff to the North Atlantic, whereas quantitatively, our climatic reconstructions show a poor agreement with available records of past solar activity. Thus, our results suggest that, during the early- and mid-Holocene, freshwater-induced Atlantic circulation changes had stronger influence on Alpine summer temperatures than solar variability and that Holocene thermohaline circulation reductions have led to summer-temperature declines of up to 1°C in central Europe.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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:

Heiri, Oliver; Tinner, Willy and Lotter, André F.

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0027-8424

Publisher:

National Academy of Sciences NAS

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

17 Dec 2015 14:56

Last Modified:

17 Dec 2015 14:56

Publisher DOI:

10.1073/pnas.0406594101

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.73998

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/73998

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