Reconstructing land temperature changes of the past 2,500 years using speleothems from Pyrenean caves (NE Spain)
Abstract. Reconstructing of past temperatures at regional scales during the Common Era is necessary to place the current warming in the context of natural climate variability. Here we present a composite record of oxygen isotope variations during last 2500 years based on eight stalagmites from four caves in the central Pyrenees (NE Spain) dominated by temperature variations, with precipitation playing a minor role. The dataset is compared with other Iberian reconstructions that show a high degree of internal coherence with respect to variability at the centennial scale. The Roman Period (especially 0–200 AD), the Medieval Climate Anomaly, and part of the Little Ice Age represent the warmest periods, while the coldest decades occurred during the Dark Ages and most of the Little Ice Age intervals (e.g., 520–550 AD and 1800–1850 AD). Importantly, the LIA cooling or the MCA warming were not continuous or uniform and exhibited high decadal variability. The Industrial Era shows an overall warming trend although with marked cycles and partial stabilization during the last two decades (1990–2010). The strong coherence between the speleothem data, European temperature reconstructions and global tree-ring data informs about the regional representativeness of this new record as Pyrenean past temperature variations. Solar variability and major volcanic eruptions appear to be the two main drivers of climate in southwestern Europe during the past 2.5 millennia.
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