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Holocene climate variability in northernmost Europe

Allen, J.R.M.; Long, A.J.; Ottley, C.J.; Pearson, D.G.; Huntley, B.


C.J. Ottley

D.G. Pearson

B. Huntley


The sediments of a small lake on Nordkinnhalvøya, Finnmark, Norway, were investigated in order to test the hypothesis that this region was sensitive to centennial–millennial climatic fluctuations during the Holocene related to changes in ocean circulation. Sedimentation at the site began during the Younger Dryas, although the site chronology, developed using a series of 14C age measurements, reveals an early Holocene hiatus in accumulation. Pollen analysis confirmed that the regional vegetation responded to Holocene climatic variability at centennial–millennial time scales and provided data used to make quantitative palaeoclimate reconstructions. The latter indicate that marked changes in seasonality characterised Holocene climatic fluctuations. Intervals with warmer summers, higher temperature sums and higher precipitation, but cooler winters and generally reduced moisture availability, alternated with intervals with cooler summers, lower temperature sums, lower precipitation, warmer winters and greater moisture availability. The former conditions were more prevalent between ca 8950 and 3950 cal BP, whereas the latter were predominant before ca 8950 and since ca 3950 cal BP. Sediment geochemistry indicates minerogenic material deposited in the lake was probably derived from two or more distinct sources or transport pathways that differed in their responses to palaeoclimatic conditions. A series of cryptotephras were located, although the small size of the shards rendered them unsuitable for electron microprobe analyses. Time-series analysis of pollen analytical and sediment geochemical data indicates that each exhibits statistically significant periodic behaviour (at periods of ca 190, 410, 1050, 1650 and 1810 yr). The periods detected suggest this behaviour may reflect regional expression of climate system responses to solar variability and/or of effects upon tides and ocean circulation of periodic lunar orbital variation. Comparison with records of fluctuations in ocean thermohaline circulation strength indicate some concordance with respect to timing of warmer and cooler intervals, but also some differences. The 8.2 ka event, that is evident in marine records from the Barents Sea, is clearly expressed by both the palaeovegetation and geochemical records. Distinctive temporal behaviour of the palaeovegetation and of different geochemical components indicates complexity in the underlying causes and mechanisms of regional climatic variability; ocean circulation variability alone cannot account for the complex climatic variability observed.


Allen, J., Long, A., Ottley, C., Pearson, D., & Huntley, B. (2007). Holocene climate variability in northernmost Europe. Quaternary Science Reviews, 26(9-10), 1432-1453.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2007
Deposit Date Jul 5, 2012
Journal Quaternary Science Reviews
Print ISSN 0277-3791
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 9-10
Pages 1432-1453