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Alpine climate during the Holocene: a comparison between records of glaciers, lake sediments and solar activity


Nussbaumer, S U; Steinhilber, F; Trachsel, M; Breitenmoser, P; Beer, J; Blass, A; Grosjean, M; Hafner, A; Holzhauser, H; Wanner, H; Zumbühl, H J (2011). Alpine climate during the Holocene: a comparison between records of glaciers, lake sediments and solar activity. Journal of Quaternary Science, 26(7):703-713.

Abstract

The European Alps are very sensitive and vulnerable to climate change. Recent improvements in Alpine glacier length records and climate reconstructions from annually laminated sediments of Alpine Lake Silvaplana give the opportunity to investigate the relationship between these two data sets of Alpine climate. Two different time frames are considered: the last 500–1000 years as well as the last 7400 years. First, we found good agreement between the two different climate archives during the past millennium: mass accumulation rates and biogenic silica concentration are largely in phase with the glacier length changes of Mer de Glace and Unterer Grindelwaldgletscher, and with the records of glacier length of Grosser Aletschgletscher and Gornergletscher. Secondly, the records are compared with temporally highly resolved data of solar activity. The Sun has had a major impact on the Alpine climate variations in the long term, i.e. several centuries to millennia. Solar activity varies with the Hallstatt periodicity of about 2000 years. Hallstatt minima are identified around 500, 2500 and 5000 a. Around these times grand solar minima (such as the Maunder Minimum) occurred in clusters coinciding with colder Alpine climate expressed by glacier advances. During the Hallstatt maxima around 0, 2000 and 4500 a, the Alpine glaciers generally retreated, indicating a warmer climate. This is supported by archaeological findings at Schnidejoch, a transalpine pass in Switzerland that was only accessible when glaciers had retreated. On shorter timescales, however, the influence of the Sun cannot be as easily detected in Alpine climate change, indicating that in addition to solar forcing, volcanic influence and internal climate variations have played an important role.

The European Alps are very sensitive and vulnerable to climate change. Recent improvements in Alpine glacier length records and climate reconstructions from annually laminated sediments of Alpine Lake Silvaplana give the opportunity to investigate the relationship between these two data sets of Alpine climate. Two different time frames are considered: the last 500–1000 years as well as the last 7400 years. First, we found good agreement between the two different climate archives during the past millennium: mass accumulation rates and biogenic silica concentration are largely in phase with the glacier length changes of Mer de Glace and Unterer Grindelwaldgletscher, and with the records of glacier length of Grosser Aletschgletscher and Gornergletscher. Secondly, the records are compared with temporally highly resolved data of solar activity. The Sun has had a major impact on the Alpine climate variations in the long term, i.e. several centuries to millennia. Solar activity varies with the Hallstatt periodicity of about 2000 years. Hallstatt minima are identified around 500, 2500 and 5000 a. Around these times grand solar minima (such as the Maunder Minimum) occurred in clusters coinciding with colder Alpine climate expressed by glacier advances. During the Hallstatt maxima around 0, 2000 and 4500 a, the Alpine glaciers generally retreated, indicating a warmer climate. This is supported by archaeological findings at Schnidejoch, a transalpine pass in Switzerland that was only accessible when glaciers had retreated. On shorter timescales, however, the influence of the Sun cannot be as easily detected in Alpine climate change, indicating that in addition to solar forcing, volcanic influence and internal climate variations have played an important role.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:12 Jan 2012 16:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:16
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0267-8179
Publisher DOI:10.1002/jqs.1495
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-53367

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