Rapid environmental changes in southern Europe during the last glacial period

Judy R. M. Allen, Ute Brandt, Achim Brauer, Hans Wolfgang Hubberten, Brian Huntley*, Jörg Keller, Michael Kraml, Andreas Mackensen, Jens Mingram, Jörg F.W. Negendank, Norbert R. Nowaczyk, Hedi Oberhänsli, William A. Watts, Sabine Wulf, Bernd Zolitschka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oxygen-isotope records from Greenland ice cores indicate numerous rapid climate fluctuations during the last glacial period. North Atlantic marine sediment cores show comparable variability in sea surface temperature and the deposition of ice-rafted debris. In contrast, very few continental records of this time period provide the temporal resolution and environmental sensitivity necessary to reveal the extent and effects of these environmental fluctuations on the continents. Here we present high-resolution geochemical, physical and pollen data from lake sediments in Italy and from a Mediterranean sediment core, linked by a common tephrochronology. Our lacustrine sequence extends to the past 102,000 years. Many of its features correlate well with the Greenland ice-core records, demonstrating that the closely coupled ocean-atmosphere system of the Northern Hemi sphere during the last glacial extended its influence at least as far as the central Mediterranean region. Numerous vegetation changes were rapid, frequently occurring in less than 200 years, showing that the terrestrial biosphere participated fully in last-glacial climate variability. Earlier than 65,000 years ago, our record shows more climate fluctuations than are apparent in the Greenland ice cores. Together, the multi-proxy data from the continental and marine records reveal differences in the seasonal character of climate during successive interstadials, and provide a step towards determining the underlying mechanisms of the centennial-millennial-scale variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-743
Number of pages4
Issue number6746
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 1999

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