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European vegetation during Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage-3

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Brian Huntley
Environmental Research Centre, University of Durham, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
Mary Jo Alfano
Earth Systems Science Center, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Judy R.M Allen
Environmental Research Centre, University of Durham, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
Dave Pollard
Earth Systems Science Center, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Polychronis C Tzedakis
School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu
Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, Université de Marseille, Marseille, France
Eberhard Grüger
Abteilung für Palynologie und Quartärwissenschaften, Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
Bill Watts
School of Botany, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland


European vegetation during representative “warm” and “cold” intervals of stage-3 was inferred from pollen analytical data. The inferred vegetation differs in character and spatial pattern from that of both fully glacial and fully interglacial conditions and exhibits contrasts between warm and cold intervals, consistent with other evidence for stage-3 palaeoenvironmental fluctuations. European vegetation thus appears to have been an integral component of millennial environmental fluctuations during stage-3; vegetation responded to this scale of environmental change and through feedback mechanisms may have had effects upon the environment. The pollen-inferred vegetation was compared with vegetation simulated using the BIOME 3.5 vegetation model for climatic conditions simulated using a regional climate model (RegCM2) nested within a coupled global climate and vegetation model (GENESIS-BIOME). Despite some discrepancies in detail, both approaches capture the principal features of the present vegetation of Europe. The simulated vegetation for stage-3 differs markedly from that inferred from pollen analytical data, implying substantial discrepancy between the simulated climate and that actually prevailing. Sensitivity analyses indicate that the simulated climate is too warm and probably has too short a winter season. These discrepancies may reflect incorrect specification of sea surface temperature or sea-ice conditions and may be exacerbated by vegetation–climate feedback in the coupled global model.

Elsevier Science (USA)

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This paper is a contribution from the Stage-3 Project (see van Andel, 2002). For membership, publications, and archaeological and mammalian databases, visit the Stage-3 Project website at:


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