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Reconstruction of Holocene Precipitation Patterns in Europe Using Pollen and Lake-Level Data

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Joël Guiot
Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, Faculté de St. Jérôme F-13397 Marseille, Cedex 13, France
Sandy P. Harrison
Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Box 554, S-751 22 Uppsala, Sweden
I. Colin Prentice
Department of Plant Ecology, Lund University, Östra Vallgatan 14 S-223 61 Lund, Sweden


Lake-level data can be used to refine palaeoclimate reconstructions based on pollen data. This approach is illustrated for the European Holocene. Estimates of P-PET (precipitation minus potential evapotranspiration) were first inferred from modern pollen analogues. The pollen-based estimates were then compared with the status of lakes within a 5° radius. Analogues with P-PET anomalies inconsistent with the lake-level changes were rejected. The "constrained" sets of analogues were used to estimate continental-scale patterns of annual mean temperature and annual precipitation at 3000-yr intervals. Estimated temperature anomalies differed only slightly from the unconstrained reconstructions. Estimated precipitation anomalies, however, showed improved spatial coherence and increased regional contrast and were occasionally reversed in sign. The effect of the constraint was to impose a rational selection among almost equally similar modern pollen analogues with similar temperatures but widely varying moisture regimes. The resulting maps showed clear, spatially coherent patterns of change in precipitation as well as temperature, suitable for comparison with climate-model results. Further improvement of these maps will become possible as a more extensive coverage of lake-level data is obtained.

Research Article
University of Washington

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