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Early to mid-Holocene climate change at Lago dell'Accesa (central Italy): climate signal or anthropogenic bias?

Authors

  • Walter Finsinger,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Paleoecology, Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Palaeoecology, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    3. Centre de Bio-Archéologie et d'Ecologie, UMR 5059 du CNRS, Université de Montpellier 2, Institut de Botanique, Montpellier, France
    • Centre de Bio-Archéologie et d'Ecologie, UMR 5059 du CNRS, Université de Montpellier 2, Institut de Botanique, 163 rue Auguste Broussonet, F-34090 Montpellier Cedex, France.
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  • Daniele Colombaroli,

    1. Department of Paleoecology, Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Environmental Change Research, Department of Geography, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA
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  • Jacques-Louis De Beaulieu,

    1. Institut Méditerranéen d'Ecologie et Paléoécologie, UMR 6116 du CNRS, Université Paul Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence, France
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  • Verushka Valsecchi,

    1. Department of Paleoecology, Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Palaeoecology, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    3. Centre de Bio-Archéologie et d'Ecologie, UMR 5059 du CNRS, Université de Montpellier 2, Institut de Botanique, Montpellier, France
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  • Boris Vannière,

    1. Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Laboratoire de Chrono-Ecologie, UMR 6565 du CNRS, Besançon, France
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  • Elisa Vescovi,

    1. Department of Paleoecology, Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
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  • Emmanuel Chapron,

    1. Geological Institute, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
    Current affiliation:
    1. Institut des Sciences de la Terre d'Orléans, Université d'Orléans, CNRS/INSU, Université François Rabelais-Tours, UMR 6113, 1A Rue de la Férollerie, F-45071 Orléans Cedex 2, France.
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  • André F. Lotter,

    1. Palaeoecology, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • Michel Magny,

    1. Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Laboratoire de Chrono-Ecologie, UMR 6565 du CNRS, Besançon, France
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  • Willy Tinner

    1. Department of Paleoecology, Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Department of Environmental Sciences, Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
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  • Finsinger, W., Colombaroli, D., De Beaulieu, J.-L., Valsecchi, V., Vannière, B., Vescovi, E., Chapron, E., Lotter, A. F., Magny, M. and Tinner, W. 2010. Early to mid-Holocene climate change at Lago dell'Accesa (central Italy): climate signal or anthropogenic bias?. J. Quaternary Sci., Vol. 25 pp. 1239–1247. ISSN 0267-8179.

Abstract

Despite the high potential of pollen records for climate reconstruction, pollen–climate relationships may be biased due to past and present human activities on the landscape. We use (i) transfer functions based on modern pollen–climate relationships to infer seasonal temperature and summer precipitation for the period 11 500–4500 cal. a BP and (ii) lake-level change records based on different sedimentary proxies in multiple cores that are mainly indicative for summer hydrology at Lago dell'Accesa (central Italy). Quantitative reconstructions indicate lowest summer precipitation during two phases (8500–7700 cal. a BP and after 6000 cal. a BP) and a gradual winter temperature increase from 11 500 to ca. 8000 cal. a BP. Lowest summer precipitation was reconstructed during these phases characterised by vegetation shifts from open forests dominated by summergreen oaks (Quercus) to forests dominated by evergreen oaks (Quercus ilex), which are at present most abundant where summer drought is stronger. Similarly, the lake-level record indicates two long-lasting low summer precipitation phases (8800–7700 and 6400–4400 cal. a BP) that were interrupted by short-term high summer precipitation events. Based on the broad agreement between the pollen-inferred summer precipitation and the low-frequency lake-level changes, we suggest that the duration of the high summer precipitation events may have been too short to maintain drought-sensitive trees, which may have been affected by high mortality rates when summer dry conditions returned. Although past and modern pollen–climate relationships may very likely have been affected by human activities since the Neolithic (i.e. when exploitation of the landscape started), we reject the hypothesis of a significant anthropogenic bias in the pollen-based climate reconstruction. In addition, we suggest that pollen-based and lake-level reconstructions may have different inherent abilities of capturing high- and low-frequency precipitation signals. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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