11 Oct 2022
11 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

A paleoprecipitation and paleotemperature reconstruction of the Last Interglacial in the southeastern Alps

Charlotte Honiat1, Gabriella Koltai1, Yuri Dublyansky1, R. Larry Edwards2, Haiwei Zhang3, Hai Cheng3, and Christoph Spötl1 Charlotte Honiat et al.
  • 1Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck, 52 Innrain, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
  • 3Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an 710054, China

Abstract. The Last Interglacial (LIG, ~130–116 ka) was one of the warmest interglacials of the past 800,000 years and an important test bed for future climate conditions warmer than today. LIG temperature reconstructions from marine records as well as paleoclimate models show that mid and high northern latitudes were considerably warmer by about 2 to 5 °C compared to today. In Central Europe, the LIG has been widely studied using pollen and more recently chironomids preserved in lake sediments. While these bio-archives document temperatures changes across the LIG, they are commonly poorly constrained chronologically. Speleothems, and fluid inclusions contained therein, offer superior age control and provide information on past climate, including qualitative and partly also quantitative records of temperature and precipitation. Here, we present a precisely dated fluid inclusion record based on seven speleothems from two caves in the SE Alps (Obir and Katerloch) and use a δD/T transfer function to reconstruct regional LIG temperatures. We report a temperature change across the glacial/interglacial transition of 5.2 ± 3.1 °C, and peak temperatures at ~127 ka of 2.4 ± 2.8 °C above today’s mean (1973–2002). The fluid inclusion δD record of these speleothems exhibits millennial-scale events during the LIG that are not well expressed in the δ18Ocalcite. The early LIG in the SE Alps was marked by an important climate instability followed by progressively more stable conditions. Our record suggests that the SE Alps predominantly received Atlantic-derived moisture during the early and mid LIG, while more Mediterranean moisture reached the study site at the end of the LIG, buffering the speleothem δ18Ocalcite signal. The return towards colder conditions is marked by an increase in δ13C starting at ~118 ka indicating a decline of the vegetation and soil activity.

Charlotte Honiat et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2022-78', Attila Demény, 20 Oct 2022 reply

Charlotte Honiat et al.

Charlotte Honiat et al.


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Short summary
A look at the climate evolution during the last warm period may allow to test ground for future climate conditions. We quantified the temperature evolution during the last interglacial using tiny amount of water trapped in the crystals of precisely dated stalagmites in caves from the southeastern European Alps. Our record indicates temperatures up to 2 °C warmer than today and an unstable climate during the first half of the Last Interglacial.