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Pollen-based continental climate reconstructions at 6 and 21 ka: a global synthesis

Climate Dynamics

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Abstract

Subfossil pollen and plant macrofossil data derived from 14C-dated sediment profiles can provide quantitative information on glacial and interglacial climates. The data allow climate variables related to growing-season warmth, winter cold, and plant-available moisture to be reconstructed. Continental-scale reconstructions have been made for the mid-Holocene (MH, around 6 ka) and Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, around 21 ka), allowing comparison with palaeoclimate simulations currently being carried out as part of the fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The synthesis of the available MH and LGM climate reconstructions and their uncertainties, obtained using modern-analogue, regression and model-inversion techniques, is presented for four temperature variables and two moisture variables. Reconstructions of the same variables based on surface-pollen assemblages are shown to be accurate and unbiased. Reconstructed LGM and MH climate anomaly patterns are coherent, consistent between variables, and robust with respect to the choice of technique. They support a conceptual model of the controls of Late Quaternary climate change whereby the first-order effects of orbital variations and greenhouse forcing on the seasonal cycle of temperature are predictably modified by responses of the atmospheric circulation and surface energy balance.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Pollen-based continental climate reconstructions at 6 and 21 ka: a global synthesis
Series title:
Climate Dynamics
Volume
37
Issue:
3-4
Year Published:
2010
Language:
English
Publisher:
Springer
Publisher location:
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s):
Geology and Environmental Change Science Center
Description:
28 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
775
Last page:
802