Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 513–535 | Cite as

Global change revealed by palaeolimnological records from remote lakes: a review

  • Jordi Catalan
  • Sergi Pla-Rabés
  • Alexander P. Wolfe
  • John P. Smol
  • Kathleen M. Rühland
  • N. John Anderson
  • Jiři Kopáček
  • Evžen Stuchlík
  • Roland Schmidt
  • Karin A. Koinig
  • Lluís Camarero
  • Roger J. Flower
  • Oliver Heiri
  • Christian Kamenik
  • Atte Korhola
  • Peter R. Leavitt
  • Roland Psenner
  • Ingemar Renberg
Original paper


Over recent decades, palaeolimnological records from remote sites have provided convincing evidence for the onset and development of several facets of global environmental change. Remote lakes, defined here as those occurring in high latitude or high altitude regions, have the advantage of not being overprinted by local anthropogenic processes. As such, many of these sites record broad-scale environmental changes, frequently driven by regime shifts in the Earth system. Here, we review a selection of studies from North America and Europe and discuss their broader implications. The history of investigation has evolved synchronously with the scope and awareness of environmental problems. An initial focus on acid deposition switched to metal and other types of pollutants, then climate change and eventually to atmospheric deposition-fertilising effects. However, none of these topics is independent of the other, and all of them affect ecosystem function and biodiversity in profound ways. Currently, remote lake palaeolimnology is developing unique datasets for each region investigated that benchmark current trends with respect to past, purely natural variability in lake systems. Fostering conceptual and methodological bridges with other environmental disciplines will upturn contribution of remote lake palaeolimnology in solving existing and emerging questions in global change science and planetary stewardship.


Remote lake palaeolimnology Climate change Nitrogen cascade Acidification Long-range atmospheric pollution Arctic lakes Alpine lakes High latitude High altitude 



The authors acknowledge project support from GRACCIE (CSD2007-00067), NITROPIR (CGL2010-19373), OCUPA (088/2009), the European Research Council (Starting Grant Project, 239858), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the US Department of the Interior, the Commission for Scientific Research in Greenland, the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF R 29N10, FWF J 1963-Geo), the Alpine Research Programme of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (project DETECTIVE), and the Czech Science Foundation (project GACR 526/09/0567).

Supplementary material

10933_2013_9681_MOESM1_ESM.doc (227 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 227 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jordi Catalan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sergi Pla-Rabés
    • 2
    • 1
  • Alexander P. Wolfe
    • 3
  • John P. Smol
    • 4
  • Kathleen M. Rühland
    • 4
  • N. John Anderson
    • 5
  • Jiři Kopáček
    • 6
  • Evžen Stuchlík
    • 7
  • Roland Schmidt
    • 8
  • Karin A. Koinig
    • 9
  • Lluís Camarero
    • 2
  • Roger J. Flower
    • 10
  • Oliver Heiri
    • 11
  • Christian Kamenik
    • 12
  • Atte Korhola
    • 13
  • Peter R. Leavitt
    • 14
  • Roland Psenner
    • 9
  • Ingemar Renberg
    • 15
  1. 1.CREAF, Cerdanyola del VallèsCataloniaSpain
  2. 2.CSIC-CEAB, Biogeodynamics and Biodiversity groupBlanes, CataloniaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), Department of BiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  5. 5.Department of GeographyLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  6. 6.Biology Centre ASCRInstitute of HydrobiologyČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  7. 7.Faculty of Science, Institute for Environmental StudiesCharles University in PragueBlatnáCzech Republic
  8. 8.Institute for LimnologyMondseeAustria
  9. 9.Institute of EcologyUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  10. 10.Environmental Change Research CentreUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  11. 11.Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change ResearchBernSwitzerland
  12. 12.Institute of Geography and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  13. 13.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  14. 14.Limnology Laboratory, Department of BiologyUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada
  15. 15.Department of Ecology and Environmental ScienceUmeå UniversityUmeaSweden

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