Climate Dynamics

, Volume 24, Issue 2–3, pp 263–278 | Cite as

Chrysophyte cysts from lake sediments reveal the submillennial winter/spring climate variability in the northwestern Mediterranean region throughout the Holocene

  • Sergi Pla
  • Jordi CatalanEmail author


In the last decade, much effort was dedicated to the reconstruction of past climate at high temporal resolution. Here, we show the suitability of chrysophyte cysts from lake sediments for revealing continental climate variability when used in sensitive sites, such as those in high mountains. We demonstrate that altitude is a main factor influencing the present distribution of chrysophytes and develop a transfer function to evaluate the local “altitude anomaly” on a lake site throughout time. Based on our knowledge of chrysophyte ecology, the altitude anomalies are interpreted as winter/spring climate signatures. The method was applied to a Holocene record from a lake in the Pyrenees showing submillennial climatic variability in this northwestern Mediterranean zone. A warming trend was present from the early Holocene to 4 kyear BP. Comparison with pollen-based reconstructions of summer temperatures denoted a contrasting decrease in continentality between the two parts of the Holocene. Oscillations of 1 cycle per ca. 2,000 years appeared throughout the record. The warmest Holocene winters were recorded during the Medieval Warm Period at ca. AD 900 and 450 and the Roman Warm Period (2.7–2.4 kyear BP). Winters in the period AD 1,050–1,175 were inferred to be as cold as in the Little Ice Age. The period between 3 and 7 kyear BP showed lower intensity in the fluctuations than in early and late Holocene. The cold event, 8,200 years ago, appeared embedded in a warm fluctuation. Another cold fluctuation was recorded around 9 kyear BP, which is in agreement with Irish and Greenland records.


Holocene Canonical Correspondence Analysis Cold Event Modern Analogue Warm Medieval Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was supported by the Comisión Interministerial de Ciencia y Tecnología of the Spanish Government (contracts AMB93-0814-CO2-01 and REN2000-0889), the European Commission, Environment and Climate Programme (contract ENV4-CT97-0642, CHILL-10,000 project), the Comissionat per a Universitat i Recerca of the Catalan Government (grant 1999SGR00029) and a PhD fellowship to SP from the Spanish Government. We thank Dr J. Guiot and Dr R. Pérez-Obiol for providing access to the pollen modern analogue database. We also extend our thanks to the distinct CRAM (Centre de Recerca d’Alta Muntanya) members that provided fieldwork assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PEARL, Department of BiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.CSIC-UB Limnology Group, Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB)CSICBlanesSpain

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