Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 475-493

First online:

Chironomids as quantitative indicators of mean July air temperature: validation by comparison with century-long meteorological records from northern Sweden

  • Isabelle LarocqueAffiliated withAbisko Naturvetenskapliga Station, Climate Impacts Research Centre
  • , Roland I. HallAffiliated withAbisko Naturvetenskapliga Station, Climate Impacts Research Centre

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This study evaluates the potential of using chironomid assemblages to estimate past temperature changes by comparing chironomid-inferred temperatures to meteorological data for the last 87 years. This comparison is made using high-resolution (i.e., sub-decadally resolved) short cores of four lakes along a gradient of altitude (Lake Njulla, 999 m a.s.l., Lake 850, 850 m a.s.l., Lake Alanen Laanijavri, 365 m a.s.l. and Lake Vuoskkujavri, 348 m a.s.l.), vegetation (pine forest to alpine tundra vegetation) and temperature (mean July temperature of 12.4 to 8.1°C). Patterns of chironomid-inferred changes in mean July air temperature were highly comparable to changes in the meteorological data. Moreover, instrumental data were almost always within the specific errors of the quantitative estimates using chironomids. These results indicate that chironomids can be used as a powerful tool to reconstruct temperatures and that chironomids are sensitive enough to record temperature changes of low magnitude such as those recorded during the Holocene. Although this relationship between temperature and chironomid community is strong for the last 87 years, we cannot assume that other environmental factors such as organic matter, changes of lake water depth or oxygen availability were not more significant over longer temporal scales of the Holocene, or longer.

Chironomids Climatic change Northern Sweden Temperature estimates Transfer function Validation