Skip to main content Accessibility help

Stability of Holocene Climate Regimes in the Yellowstone Region

  • Cathy Whitlock (a1), Patrick J. Bartlein (a1) and Kelli J. Van Norman (a1)


A 12,500-yr pollen record from Loon Lake, Wyoming provides information on the climate history of the southwestern margin of Yellowstone National Park. The environmental reconstruction was used to evaluate hypotheses that address spatial variations in the Holocene climate of mountainous regions. Loon Lake lies within the summer-dry/winter-wet climate regime. An increase in xerophytic pollen taxa suggests drier-than-present conditions between ca. 9500 and 5500 14C yr B.P. This response is consistent with the hypothesis that increased summer radiation and the expansion of the east Pacific subtropical high-pressure system in the early Holocene intensified summer drought at locations within the summer-dry/winter-wet regime. This climate history contrasts with that of nearby sites in the summer-wet/winter-dry region, which were under the influence of stronger summer monsoonal circulation in the early Holocene. The Loon Lake record implies that the location of contrasting climate regimes did not change in the Yellowstone region during the Holocene. The amplitude of the regimes, however, was determined by the intensity of circulation features and these varied with temporal changes in the seasonal distribution of solar radiation.


Corresponding author

1To whom correspondence should be addressed.


Hide All
Beiswenger, J. M. (1991). Late Quaternary vegetational history of Grays Lake, Idaho. Ecological Monographs 61, 165182.
Bright, R. C. (1966). Pollen and seed stratigraphy of Swan Lake, southeastern Idaho; its relation to regional vegetation history and to Lake Bonneville history. Tebiwa 9, 147.
Cole, K. L. (1985). Past rates of change, species richness, and a model of vegetational inertia in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. The American Naturalist 125, 289303.
Davis, O. K. Sheppard, J. C., and Robertson, S. (1986). Contrasting climatic histories for the Snake River Plain, Idaho, resulting from multiple thermal maxima. Quaternary Research 26, 321339.
Despain, D. G. (1990). “Yellowstone Vegetation; Consequences of Environment and History in a Natural Setting.” Rinehart, New York.
Mock, C. J. (1994). Modem climate analogues of late-Quatemary paleoclimates for the western United States. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oregon, Eugene.
Tang, M., and Reiter, E, R. (1984). Plateau monsoons of the Northern Hemisphere: a comparison between North America and Tibet. Monthly Weather Review 112, 617637.
Thompson, R. S. Whitlock, C. W. Bartlein, P. J. Harrison, S. P., and Spaulding, W. G. (1993). In “Global Climates since the Last Glacial Maximum” (Wright, H. E. Jr. Kutzbach, J. E. Webb, T. III Ruddiman, W. F. Street-Perrott, F. A., and Bartlein, P. J., Eds.), pp. 415467. Univ. of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Whitlock, C. (1993). Postglacial vegetation and climate of Grand Teton and southern Yellowstone National Parks. Ecological Monographs 63, 173198.
Whitlock, C., and Bartlein, P. J. (1993). Spatial variations of Holocene climatic change in the Yellowstone region. Quaternary Research 39, 231238.


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed