Comparison between chironomid-inferred July temperatures and meteorological data AD 1850–2001 from varved Lake Silvaplana, Switzerland
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Inferred temperatures from chironomids preserved in the varved sediment of Lake Silvaplana in the Eastern Swiss Alps were compared with instrumental data obtained from a meteorological station in Sils-Maria, on the shore of Lake Silvaplana, for the time interval 1850–2001. At near-annual resolution, the general patterns of chironomid-inferred temperature changes followed the meteorological record over the last ∼150 years (rPearson = 0.65, P = 0.01) and 87% of the inferences had deviations from the instrumental data below the root-mean-square error of prediction (RMSEP). When the inferences were compared with a 2-year running mean in the meteorological data, 94% of the inferences had differences with the instrumental data below the RMSEP, indicating that more than half of the inaccurate inferences may have been due to errors in varve counting. Larger deviations from the instrumental data were also obtained from samples with low percentages of fossil taxa represented in the training set used for temperature reconstruction and/or assemblages with poor fit to temperature. Changes in total phosphorus (TP, as inferred by diatoms) and/or greater precipitation were possible factors affecting the accuracy of the temperature reconstruction. Although these factors might affect the quantitative estimates, obtaining >80% accurate temperature inferences suggests that chironomid analysis is a reliable tool for reconstructing mean July air temperature quantitatively over the last ∼150 years in Lake Silvaplana.