Reconstruction of Holocene precipitation patterns in Europe using pollen and lake-level data

Joël Guiot*, Sandy P. Harrison, I. Colin Prentice

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Citations (Scopus)


Lake-level data can be used to refine palaeoclimate reconstructions based on pollen data. This approach is illustrated for the European Holocene. Estimates of P-PET (precipitation minus potential evapotranspiration) were first inferred from modern pollen analogues. The pollen-based estimates were then compared with the status of lakes within a 5° radius. Analogues with P-PET anomalies inconsistent with the lake-level changes were rejected. The "constrained" sets of analogues were used to estimate continental-scale patterns of annual mean temperature and annual precipitation at 3000-yr intervals. Estimated temperature anomalies differed only slightly from the unconstrained reconstructions. Estimated precipitation anomalies, however, showed improved spatial coherence and increased regional contrast and were occasionally reversed in sign. The effect of the constraint was to impose a rational selection among almost equally similar modern pollen analogues with similar temperatures but widely varying moisture regimes. The resulting maps showed clear, spatially coherent patterns of change in precipitation as well as temperature, suitable for comparison with climate-model results. Further improvement of these maps will become possible as a more extensive coverage of lake-level data is obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes


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