Contrasting northern and southern European winter climate trends during the Last Interglacial

Type Article
Date 2021-06
Language English
Author(s) Salonen J. Sakari1, 2, Sánchez-Goñi Maria Fernanda2, 3, Renssen Hans4, Plikk Anna5
Affiliation(s) 1 : Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
2 : Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux (EPOC), UMR 5805, University of Bordeaux, F-33615 Pessac, France
3 : Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris Sciences et Lettres University (EPHE, PSL), F-33615 Pessac, France
4 : Department of Natural Sciences and Environmental Health, University of South-Eastern Norway, 3800 Bø i Telemark, Norway
5 : The Archaeologists, National Historical Museums, P.O. Box 5428, SE-11484 Stockholm, Sweden
Source Geology (0091-7613) (Geological Society of America), 2021-06 , Vol. 49 , N. 10 , P. 1220-1224
DOI 10.1130/G49007.1

The Last Interglacial (LIG; 130–115 ka) is an important test bed for climate science as an instance of significantly warmer than preindustrial global temperatures. However, LIG climate patterns remain poorly resolved, especially for winter, affected by a suite of strong feedbacks such as changes in sea-ice cover in the high latitudes. We present a synthesis of winter temperature and precipitation proxy data from the Atlantic seaboard of Europe, spanning from southern Iberia to the Arctic. Our data reveal distinct, opposite latitudinal climate trends, including warming winters seen in the European Arctic while cooling and drying occurred in southwest Europe over the LIG. Climate model simulations for 130 and 120 ka suggest these contrasting climate patterns were affected by a shift toward an atmospheric circulation regime with an enhanced meridional pressure gradient and strengthened midlatitude westerlies, leading to a strong reduction in precipitation across southern Europe.

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