, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 197-213

Reconstructing climate and environmental change in northern England through chironomid and pollen analyses: evidence from Talkin Tarn, Cumbria

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Abstract

Chironomids have been used extensively for reconstructing past temperatures from the late glacial chronozone but far less work has focused on their use as temperature proxies throughout the Holocene, and little work has been undertaken within the UK. Northern England does have many detailed palaeoclimate records, although the majority of these are reconstructions from ombrotrophic peat bogs, which yield a combined temperature and precipitation proxy record. A lake sediment core from Talkin Tarn, dating back 6000 years, was therefore analysed for chironomid remains in an attempt to produce a Holocene temperature reconstruction. Although chironomids have been shown to respond to air temperature by many modern training sets, it is also known that they can respond to other environmental factors. Pollen and loss-on-ignition analyses were therefore undertaken to ascertain whether the lake had been subjected to major environmental changes. Some anthropogenic changes in land use were detected, which may have affected the lake water chemistry and sediments, but they seem to have had little direct impact on the chironomid fauna for the majority of the record. Part of the geology of the catchment is limestone, which suggests that the lake may be buffered against any changes in pH. A chironomid-inferred mean July temperature transfer function from a Norwegian training set was applied to the chironomid data and produced a reconstruction with significant fluctuations throughout the later Holocene, which were associated with cold and warm stenotherms within the assemblages. The uppermost chironomid sample from the lake core (less than 100 years old) has a reconstructed temperature of 14.6 °C (± sample-specific error of 1.18 °C), which compares well with the contemporary mean July average of 14.8 °C. It is therefore concluded that chironomids can be used to reconstruct Holocene temperature, provided the site is well-buffered in relation to pH changes and can be shown not to have been influenced to any great extent by anthropogenic disturbance.