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Climatic Reconstruction in Europe for 18,000 YR B.P. from Pollen Data

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Odile Peyron
Laboratoire de Géologie du Quaternaire, CEREGE, B.P. 80, 13545, Aix-en-Provence cedex 4, France Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, case 451, F-13397, Marseille cedex 20, France
Joël Guiot
Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, case 451, F-13397, Marseille cedex 20, France
Rachid Cheddadi
Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, case 451, F-13397, Marseille cedex 20, France
Pavel Tarasov
Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, case 451, F-13397, Marseille cedex 20, France Department of Geography, Moscow State University, Vorob ‘evy Gory, 119899, Moscow, Russia
Maurice Reille
Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, case 451, F-13397, Marseille cedex 20, France
Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu
Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, case 451, F-13397, Marseille cedex 20, France
Sytze Bottema
Biologisch-Archaeologisch Instituut, Rijkuniversiteit Groningen, Postraat 6, NL-9721, Groningen, the Netherlands
Valérie Andrieu
Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, case 451, F-13397, Marseille cedex 20, France


An improved concept of the best analogs method is used to reconstruct the climate of the last glacial maximum from pollen data in Europe. In order to deal with the lack of perfect analogs of fossil assemblages and therefore to obtain a more accurate climate reconstruction, we used a combination of pollen types grouped according to plant phenology and present climate constraints rather than pollen percentages for each individual taxon. The distribution of pollen taxa into plant functional types (PFTs) is aimed to reflect the vegetation in terms of biomes which have a wider distribution than a species. The climatic variables are then calibrated on these PFTs using an artificial neural network technique. The use of PFTs allowed us to deal with situations where pollen assemblages have only partial modern analogs. The method is applied to the glacial steppic vegetation in Europe, using 15 pollen records. North of the Pyrenees–Alps line, the reconstructed temperatures were lower than today: −30 ± 10°C for the temperature of the coldest month ( Tc) and −12 ± 3°C for the annual mean ( Tann). South of that line, Tc and Tann anomalies were respectively, −15 ± 5°C and −10 ± 5°C. The available moisture index and annual precipitation were also lower than present: −60 ± 20% north of Mediterranean Sea, (−800 ± 100 mm for precipitation). In Italy and Greece, the available moisture was 20% lower, with a precipitation anomaly of ca. −600 ± 200 mm. Southward, the moisture index was close to that at present (±20%), and precipitation was lower (−300 ± 300 mm).

Research Article
University of Washington

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