Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Clim. Past, 8, 683–700, 2012

Special issue: Characterization of climatic variability in the Iberian Peninsula...

Clim. Past, 8, 683–700, 2012

Review article 30 Mar 2012

Review article | 30 Mar 2012

A multi-proxy perspective on millennium-long climate variability in the Southern Pyrenees

M. Morellón1,2,3, A. Pérez-Sanz3, J. P. Corella2,3, U. Büntgen4, J. Catalán5, P. González-Sampériz3, J. J. González-Trueba6, J. A. López-Sáez7, A. Moreno2,3, S. Pla-Rabes5, M. Á. Saz-Sánchez8, P. Scussolini9,12, E. Serrano10, F. Steinhilber1, V. Stefanova11, T. Vegas-Vilarrúbia12, and B. Valero-Garcés2,3 M. Morellón et al.
  • 1Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Department of Surface Waters, Überlandstrasse 133, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • 2Laboratorio Internacional de Cambio Global (LINCGlobal), PUC-CSIC, Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, PUC, Alameda 340, PC 6513677 Santiago, Chile
  • 3Departamento de Procesos Geoambientales y Cambio Global, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE) – CSIC, Campus de Aula Dei. Avda, Montañana 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
  • 4Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL) ETH domain Zürich, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • 5Centre d'Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CEAB) – CSIC. C/ Accés a la Cala St. Francesc, 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
  • 6Departamento de Geografía, Prehistoria y Arqueología, Calle Tomás y Valiente s/n. 01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
  • 7Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, CCHS-CSIC, C/ Albasanz, 26-28, 28037 Madrid, Spain
  • 8Departamento de Geografía y Ordenación del Territorio, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Zaragoza, Calle Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
  • 9Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Department of Marine Biogeology, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 10Subunidad de Geografía Física Departamento de Geografía, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Plaza del Campus s/n, 47011 Valladolid, Spain
  • 11Limnological Research Center, University of Minnesota, 310 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
  • 12Departament of Ecology, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Av, Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

Abstract. This paper reviews multi-proxy paleoclimatic reconstructions with robust age-control derived from lacustrine, dendrochronological and geomorphological records and characterizes the main environmental changes that occurred in the Southern Pyrenees during the last millennium. Warmer and relatively arid conditions prevailed during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA, ca. 900–1300 AD), with a significant development of xerophytes and Mediterranean vegetation and limited deciduous tree formations (mesophytes). The Little Ice Age (LIA, 1300–1800 AD) was generally colder and moister, with an expansion of deciduous taxa and cold-adapted montane conifers. Two major phases occurred within this period: (i) a transition MCA–LIA, characterized by fluctuating, moist conditions and relatively cold temperatures (ca. 1300 and 1600 AD); and (ii) a second period, characterized by the coldest and most humid conditions, coinciding with maximum (recent) glacier advances (ca. 1600–1800 AD). Glaciers retreated after the LIA when warmer and more arid conditions dominated, interrupted by a short-living cooling episode during the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Some records suggest a response to solar activity with colder and slightly moister conditions during solar minima. Centennial-scale hydrological fluctuations are in phase with reconstructions of NAO variability, which appears to be one of the main climate mechanisms influencing rainfall variations in the region during the last millennium.