03 Sep 2021
03 Sep 2021
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Holocene climate and oceanography of the coastal Western United States and California Current System

Hannah M. Palmer1,2, Veronica Padilla Vriesman1, Caitlin M. Livsey1, Carina R. Fish1,2, and Tessa M. Hill1,2 Hannah M. Palmer et al.
  • 1Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, University of California, Davis, Davis, California, 95616, United States of America
  • 2Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis, Bodega Bay, California, 94923, United States of America

Abstract. To understand and contextualize modern climate change, we must improve our understanding of climatic and oceanographic changes in the Holocene (11.75 ka–present). Climate records of the Holocene can be utilized as a “baseline” from which to compare modern climate and can also provide insights into how environments and ecosystems experience and recover from environmental change. However, individual studies on Holocene climate in the literature tend to focus on a distinct geographic location, a specific proxy record, or a certain aspect of climate (e.g., upwelling or precipitation), resulting in localized, record-specific trends rather than a comprehensive view of climate variability through the Holocene. Here we synthesize the major oceanographic and terrestrial changes that have occurred in the Western United States (bounded by 30° N to 52° N and 115° W to 130° W) through the most recent 11.75 ka and explore the impacts of these changes on marine and terrestrial ecosystems and human populations. This three-tiered systematic review combines interpretations from over 100 published studies, codes and geospatially analyzes temperature, hydroclimate, and fire history from over 50 published studies, and interprets nine representative time series through the Holocene. We find that the early Holocene is characterized by warming relative to pre-Holocene conditions, including warm sea surface conditions, a warm and dry Pacific Northwest, a warm and wet Southwest, and overall spatial and temporal stability. In the mid Holocene, these patterns reverse; this interval is characterized by cool sea surface temperatures, a cool and wet Pacific Northwest and warm and dry Southwest. The late Holocene is the most variable interval, both spatially and temporally, and a novel spatial trend appears in terrestrial climate with warmer coastal areas and cooler inland areas. Human communities interacted with the environment throughout the entire Holocene, as evidenced in archeological and paleoenvironmental records, yet the recent era of colonization (1850–present) represents an unprecedented environmental interval in many records. Overall, our analysis shows linkages between terrestrial and oceanographic conditions, distinct environmental phases through time, and emphasizes the importance of local factors in controlling climate through the dynamic Holocene.

Hannah M. Palmer et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-109', John Barron, 11 Sep 2021 reply
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-109', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Nov 2021 reply

Hannah M. Palmer et al.

Hannah M. Palmer et al.


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Short summary
To better understand and contextualize modern climate change, this systematic review synthesizes climate and oceanographic patterns in the Western United States and California Current System through the most recent 11,7500 years. Through a literature review and coded analysis of past studies, we identify distinct environmental phases through time and linkages between marine and terrestrial systems. We explore climate change impacts on ecosystems and human-environment interactions.