Characterization of the Medieval Climate Anomaly, Little Ice Age and recent warming in northern Lapland



The major climate events of the Common Era (CE) have global imprints but significant variations in their timing and magnitude have been suggested. For reliable assessments of the past climate patterns and their applications for evaluations of the ongoing changes, spatially comprehensive network of high-fidelity paleorecords are necessary. In this study, we reconstruct summer air temperatures of the past 2000 years from northern Lapland (Utsjoki, Finland). We use fossil Chironomidae (Diptera) assemblages from sediments of a remote subarctic lake (Loažžejávri) and the transfer function approach for quantitative temperature reconstruction. The results indicate that the Chironomidae fauna were responding to air temperature and the core assemblages had good modern analogues in the calibration set allowing reliable paleoclimate reconstruction. In our reconstruction, a warm period between ∼900 and 1300 CE is synchronous with the globally defined extent of the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), though beginning considerably later than previously reconstructed for eastern Scandinavia. The MCA was also relatively mild, as the temperatures were only 0.5 °C higher than the record average. Similar to eastern Scandinavia, a cold period corresponding to the Little Ice Age (LIA) was longer that typically observed in hemispheric reconstructions beginning already at ∼1400 CE and lasting very close to modern times. We also found confirming evidence that the LIA was interrupted by a short-lived warmer period dividing it into two separate cold events in the region. Based on our results, the present is warmer than during any time of the MCA displaying how rapid and severe the ongoing climate change is.