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Holocene climate variability

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Paul A. Mayewski*
Climate Change Institute, and Department of Earth Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
Eelco E. Rohling
School of Ocean and Earth Science, Southampton University, Southampton, Hampshire SO14 3ZH, UK
J. Curt Stager
Natural Resources Division, Paul Smith's College, Paul Smiths, NY 12970, USA
Wibjörn Karlén
Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Kirk A. Maasch
Climate Change Institute, and Department of Earth Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
L. David Meeker
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, and Department of Mathematics, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
Eric A. Meyerson
Climate Change Institute, and Department of Earth Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
Francoise Gasse
Centre Europeen de Recherche et d'Enseignement de Geosciences de l'Environnement, BP 80, F-13454, Aix-en-Provence Cedex 4, France
Shirley van Kreveld
Institüt für Geowissenschaften, University of Kiel, D-24098 Kiel, Germany
Karin Holmgren
Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Julia Lee-Thorp
Archaeology Department, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Gunhild Rosqvist
Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Frank Rack
Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc., Washington, D.C. 20036, USA
Michael Staubwasser
Department of Earth Sciences, Parks Road OX1 3PR, Oxford, UK
Ralph R. Schneider
MARUM, Geosciences, Bremen University, D-28359 Bremen, Germany
Eric J. Steig
Quaternary Research Center and Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, WA, USA
*Corresponding author. Fax: +1-207-581-1203.

E-mail (P.A. Mayewski).


Although the dramatic climate disruptions of the last glacial period have received considerable attention, relatively little has been directed toward climate variability in the Holocene (11,500 cal yr B.P. to the present). Examination of ?50 globally distributed paleoclimate records reveals as many as six periods of significant rapid climate change during the time periods 9000"8000, 6000"5000, 4200"3800, 3500"2500, 1200"1000, and 600"150 cal yr B.P. Most of the climate change events in these globally distributed records are characterized by polar cooling, tropical aridity, and major atmospheric circulation changes, although in the most recent interval (600"150 cal yr B.P.), polar cooling was accompanied by increased moisture in some parts of the tropics. Several intervals coincide with major disruptions of civilization, illustrating the human significance of Holocene climate variability.

Research Article
University of Washington

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