Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 112, Issue 1–2, pp 215–225 | Cite as

Abrupt temperature changes during the last 1,500 years

  • István MatyasovszkyEmail author
  • Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist
Original Paper


We investigate the occurrence of abrupt changes in a total of 35 different proxy records from the extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere for the last ~1,500 years. The proxy records include ice-core δ18O, speleothem, tree ring width/density, marine sediment and lake sediment records with annual, sub-decadal or decadal resolutions. The aim is to explore the spatio–temporal distribution of abrupt climate changes using a kink point analysis technique. A clustering of warm kink points (the kink points with the highest temperatures) around AD 1000 appears corresponding to the Medieval Warm Period and indicates a geographically widespread temperature peak at that time. Kink points around AD 1000 are somewhat more numerous on higher latitudes than on lower latitudes. There are some tendencies for the coldest kink points (the kink points with the lowest temperatures) to be clustered in the ninetenth century, but they are generally more unevenly spaced in time than the warm peaks around AD 1000. The relative lack of kink points detected during the 1500 s–1700 s, likely the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, implies that this cold period was relatively stable and without abrupt events. A possible cluster of kink points on lower latitudes in the early ninth century is also found. No clear difference in the timing of kink points between the different proxy types can be observed.


Tree Ring Width Proxy Record Medieval Warm Period Trend Function Abrupt Climate Change 
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 work was supported by the European Union and co-financed by the European Social Fund (grant agreement no. TAMOP 4.2.1./B-09/KMR-2010-0003). We wish to express our gratitude to several scholars that provided us with proxy data that are not available from public databases: Thomas M. Cronin, National Center US Geological Survey; Ivan A. Kalugin, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Vladimir V. Klimenko, Global Energy Problems Laboratory, Moscow Energy Institute and Carla Taricco, Dipartimento di Fisica, Generale dell' Università.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • István Matyasovszky
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MeteorologyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Department of HistoryStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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