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A Comparison of Evidence for Late Holocene Summer Temperature Variations in the Northern Hemisphere

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

L. D. Williams
Affiliation:
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
T. M. L. Wigley
Affiliation:
Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom

Abstract

Data on glacier, tree-line, tree-ring, pollen, and ice-core variations in North America, Greenland, and Europe during the last 2000 yr (up to A.D. 1800) are compared in detail on the century time scale. Only data that may be indicative of summer temperature changes are included, since these comprise most of the available paleoclimatic information, although some variations (especially of glaciers) may have been in response to precipitation changes instead. Radiocarbon dates and 14C-dated records are converted to calendar (dendrochronological) years using the calibration of M. Stuiver (1982, Radiocarbon 24, 1–26). Despite the basic uncertainties in dating, interpretation, response times, and “noise level” of proxy climatic data, there is at times good agreement among different kinds of evidence from within a region to suggest an episode of generally warmer or cooler summers. Three previously identified episodes find expression in records from all of the regions considered: the “Little Ice Age” of the last few centuries, a “Medieval Warm Period” around the 12th century A.D., and an earlier cold period some time between the 8th and 10th centuries. However, the timing of minima and maxima within these episodes seems to have varied from region to region (although the evidence is consistent within regions). In the 15th century, summers were warm in the eastern Canadian Arctic and southern Greenland while there was a cold episode in Europe and western North America.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
University of Washington

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