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Climatic changes in Eurasia and Africa at the last glacial maximum and mid-Holocene: reconstruction from pollen data using inverse vegetation modelling

Abstract : In order to improve the reliability of climate reconstruction, especially the climatologies outside the modern observed climate space, an improved inverse vegetation model using a recent version of BIOME4 has been designed to quantitatively reconstruct past climates, based on pollen biome scores from the BIOME6000 project. The method has been validated with surface pollen spectra from Eurasia and Africa, and applied to palaeoclimate reconstruction. At 6 cal ka BP (calendar years), the climate was generally wetter than today in southern Europe and northern Africa, especially in the summer. Winter temperatures were higher (1-5 degrees C) than present in southern Scandinavia, northeastern Europe, and southern Africa, but cooler in southern Eurasia and in tropical Africa, especially in Mediterranean regions. Summer temperatures were generally higher than today in most of Eurasia and Africa, with a significant warming from similar to 3 to 5 degrees C over northwestern and southern Europe, southern Africa, and eastern Africa. In contrast, summers were 1-3 degrees C cooler than present in the Mediterranean lowlands and in a band from the eastern Black Sea to Siberia. At 21 cal ka BP, a marked hydrological change can be seen in the tropical zone, where annual precipitation was similar to 200-1,000 mm/year lower than today in equatorial East Africa compared to the present. A robust inverse relationship is shown between precipitation change and elevation in Africa. This relationship indicates that precipitation likely had an important role in controlling equilibrium-line altitudes (ELA) changes in the tropics during the LGM period. In Eurasia, hydrological decreases follow a longitudinal gradient from Europe to Siberia. Winter temperatures were similar to 10-17 degrees C lower than today in Eurasia with a more significant decrease in northern regions. In Africa, winter temperature was similar to 10-15 degrees C lower than present in the south, while it was only reduced by similar to 0-3 degrees C in the tropical zone. Comparison of palaeoclimate reconstructions using LGM and modern CO2 concentrations reveals that the effect of CO2 on pollen-based LGM reconstructions differs by vegetation type. Reconstructions for pollen sites in steppic vegetation in Europe show warmer winter temperatures under LGM CO2 concentrations than under modern concentrations, and reconstructions for sites in xerophytic woods/scrub in tropical high altitude regions of Africa are wetter for LGM CO2 concentrations than for modern concentrations, because our reconstructions account for decreased plant water use efficiency.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 27, 2013 - 2:49:37 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 10:59:56 PM

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Hb Wu, Joel Guiot, S Brewer, Zt Guo. Climatic changes in Eurasia and Africa at the last glacial maximum and mid-Holocene: reconstruction from pollen data using inverse vegetation modelling. Climate Dynamics, Springer Verlag, 2007, 29 (2-3), pp.211-229. ⟨10.1007/s00382-007-0231-3⟩. ⟨hal-00866993⟩

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