Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Medieval Warming, Little Ice Age, and European impact on the environment during the last millennium in the lower Hudson Valley, New York, USA

  • Dee Cabaniss Pederson (a1), Dorothy M. Peteet (a1) (a2), Dorothy Kurdyla (a3) and Tom Guilderson (a3)

Establishing natural climate variability becomes particularly important in large urban areas in anticipation of droughts. We present a well-dated bi-decadal record of vegetation, climate, land use, and fire frequency from a tidal marsh in the Hudson River Estuary. The classic Medieval Warm Period is evident through striking increases in charcoal and Pinus dominance from ∼800–1300 A.D., paralleling paleorecords southward along the Atlantic seaboard. Higher inputs of inorganic sediment during this interval suggest increased watershed erosion during drought conditions. The presence of the Little Ice Age ensues with increases in Picea and Tsuga, coupled with increasing organic percentages due to cooler, moister conditions. European impact is manifested by a decline in arboreal pollen due to land clearance, increased weedy plant cover (i.e., Ambrosia, Plantago, and Rumex), and an increase in inorganic particles to the watershed.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author. Fax: +1 845 365 8154.E-mail (D.C. Pederson).
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

G.C. Bond , B. Kromer , J. Beer , R. Muscheler , M.N. Evans , W. Showers , S. Hoffman , R. Lotti-Bond , I. Hajdas , G. Bonani , (2001). Persistent solar influence on North Atlantic climate during the Holocene. Science 294, 21302136.

W.S. Broecker , (2001). Was the medieval warm period global?. Science 291, 14971499.

R.B. Brugam , (1978). Pollen indicators of land-use change in southern Connecticut. Quaternary Research 9, 349362.

G.S. Brush , (1984). Patterns of recent sediment accumulation in Chesapeake Bay (Virginia–Maryland U.S.A.) Tributaries. Chemical Geology 44, 227242.

G.S. Brush , (1989). Rates and patterns of estuarine sediment accumulation. Limnology and Oceanography 34, 12351246.

G.S. Brush , E.A. Martin , R.S. DeFries , C.A. Rice , (1982). Comparisons of 210Pb and pollen methods for determining rates of estuarine sediment accumulation. Quaternary Research 18, 196217.

M.F. Buell , A.N. Langford , D.W. Davidson , L.F. Ohmann , (1966). The upland forest continuum in northern New Jersey. Ecology 47, 416432.

D. Carmichael , (1980). A record of environmental change during recent millenia in the Hackensack tidal marsh, New Jersey. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 107, 514524.

J.S. Clark , (1986). Late-Holocene vegetation and coastal processes at a Long Island tidal marsh. Journal of Ecology 74, 561578.

J.S. Clark , (1988). Particle motion and the theory of charcoal analysis: source area, transport, deposition, and sampling. Quaternary Research 30, 6780.

J.S. Clark , W.A. Patterson III, (1985). The development of a tidal marsh: upland and oceanic influences. Ecological Monographs 55, 189217.

J.S. Clark , P.D. Royall , (1996). Local and regional sediment charcoal evidence for fire regimes in pre-settlement north-eastern North America. Journal of Ecology 84, 365382.

E.R. Cook , G.C. Jacoby Jr., (1977). Tree-ring drought relationships in the Hudson Valley, New York. Science 198, 399401.

E.R. Cook , C. Woodhouse , C.M. Eakin , D.M. Meko , D.W. Stahle , (2004). Long-term aridity changes in the Western United States. Science 306, 10151018.

T.M. Cronin , G.S. Dwyer , T. Kamiya , S. Schwede , D.A. Willard , (2003). Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age and 20th century temperature variability from Chesapeake Bay. Global and Planetary Change 36, 1729.

M.B. Davis , (1969). Climatic change in southern Connecticut recorded by pollen deposition at Rogers Lake. Ecology 50, 409422.

M.B. Davis , R.W. Spear , L.C.K. Shane , (1980). Holocene climate of New England. Quaternary Research 14, 240250.

G.M. Day , (1953). The Indian as an ecological factor in the Northeastern forest. Ecology 34, 329346.

S.A. Finkelstein , (2003). Identifying pollen grains of Typha latifolia, Typha angustifolia, and Typha x glauca . Canadian Journal of Botany 81, 985990.

S.C. Fritz , E. Ito , A. Yu , K. Laird , D.R. Engstrom , (2000). Hydrologic variation in the Northern Great Plains during the last two millennia. Quaternary Research 53, 175184.

J.L. Fuller , D.R. Foster , J.S. McLachlan , N. Drake , (1998). Impact of human activity on regional forest composition in central New England. Ecosystems 1, 7695.

L.E. Heusser , C.E. Stock , (1984). Preparation techniques for concentrating pollen from marine sediments and other sediments with low pollen density. Palynology 8, 225227.

L. Keigwin , (1996). The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea. Science 274, 15041508.

H.H. Lamb , (1982). Climate, history and the modern world. Methuen, London.

R.E. Loeb , (1989). Lake pollen records of the past century in northern New Jersey and southeastern New York, U.S.A.. Palynology 13, 319.

T.E. Maenza-Gmelch , (1997). Holocene vegetation, climate, and fire history of the Hudson Highlands, southeastern New York, USA. The Holocene 7, 2537.

J.A. Mason , J.B. Swinehart , R.J. Goble , D.B. Loope , (2004). Late-Holocene dune activity linked to hydrological drought, Nebraska Sand Hills, USA. The Holocene 14, 209217.

S.C. Neubauer , I.C. Anderson , J.A. Constantine , S.A. Kuehl , (2002). Sediment deposition and accretion in a mid-Atlantic (U.S.A.) tidal freshwater marsh. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 54, 713727.

W.S. Newman , L.J. Cinquemani , J.A. Sperlin , L.F. Marcus , R. Pardi , (1987). Holocene neotectonics and the Ramapo Fault sea-level anomaly: a study of varying marine transgression rates in the Lower Hudson Estuary, New York and New Jersey. D. Nummendal , O.H. Pilkey , J.D. Howard Sea level fluctuation and coastal evolution Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Tulsa., 97111.

D.A. Orwig , D.R. Foster , D.L. Mausel , (2002). Landscape patterns of hemlock decline in New England due to the introduced hemlock woolly adelgid. Journal of Biogeography 29, 14751487.

T. Parshall , D.R. Foster , (2002). Fire on the New England landscape: regional and temporal variation, cultural and environmental controls. Journal of Biogeography 29, 13051317.

T. Parshall , D.R. Foster , E. Faison , D. MacDonald , B.C.S. Hansen , (2003). Long-term history of vegetation and fire in pitch pine-oak forests on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Ecology 84, 736748.

G.B. Pasternack , G.S. Brush , W.B. Hilgartner , (2001). Impact of historic land-use change on sediment delivery to a Chesapeake Bay subestuarine delta. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 26, 119.

E.W.B. Russell , (1981). Vegetation of northern New Jersey before European settlement. The American Midland Naturalist 105, 112.

E.W.B. Russell , (1983). Indian-set fires in the forests of the Northeastern United States. Ecology 64, 7888.

E.W.B. Russell , R.B. Davis , (2001). Five centuries of changing forest vegetation in the Northeastern United States. Plant Ecology 155, 113.

E.W.B. Russell , R.B. Davis , R.S. Anderson , T.E. Rhodes , D.S. Anderson , (1993). Recent centuries of vegetational change in the glaciated north-eastern United States. Journal of Ecology 81, 647664.

K. Saltonstall , (2002). Cryptic invasion by a non-native genotype of the common reed, Phragmites australis, into North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99, 24452449.

B. Shuman , P. Newby , Y. Huang , T. Webb III, (2004). Evidence for the close climatic control of New England vegetation history. Ecology 85, 5 12971310.

D.W. Stahle , M.K. Cleveland , J.G. Hehr , (1988). North Carolina climate change reconstructed from tree rings: A.D. 372 to 1985. Science 240, 15171519.

S. Stine , (1994). Extreme and persistent drought in California and Patagonia during mediaeval time. Nature 369, 546549.

M. Stuiver , P.J. Reimer , (1993). Extended 14C database and revised CALIB radiocarbon calibration program. Radiocarbon 35, 215230.

A.M. Swain , (1973). A history of fire and vegetation in northeastern Minnesota as recorded in lake sediments. Quaternary Research 3, 383396.

W. Tinner , F.S. Hu , (2003). Size parameters, size-class distribution and area–number relationship of microscopic charcoal: relevance for fire reconstruction. The Holocene 13, 499505.

D.A. Willard , T.M. Cronin , S. Verardo , (2003). Late-Holocene climate and ecosystem history from Chesapeake Bay sediment cores, USA. The Holocene 13, 2 201214.

P.W. Williams , D.N.T. King , J.-X. Zhao , K.D. Collerson , (2004). Speleothem master chronologies: combined Holocene 18O and 13C records from the North Island of New Zealand and their palaeoenvironmental interpretation. The Holocene 14, 194208.

H.E. Wright Jr., D.H. Mann , P.H. Glaser , (1984). Piston corers for peat and lake sediments. Ecology 65, 657659.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 3 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 25th March 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.