Clim. Past Discuss., 7, 535-573, 2011
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in CP.
Temperature variability at Dürres Maar, Germany during the migration period and at high medieval times, inferred from stable carbon isotopes of Sphagnum cellulose
R. Moschen1,*, N. Kühl2, S. Peters3, H. Vos, and A. Lücke1
1Institute of Bio- and Geosciences: Agrosphere (IBG-3), Research Centre Juelich (Forschungszentrum Jülich), 52425 Juelich, Germany
2Steinmann Institute of Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany
3Institute of Energy and Climate Science: Stratosphere (IEK-7), Research Centre Juelich (Forschungszentrum Jülich), 52425 Juelich, Germany
*now at: Institute of Geology, University of Cologne, 50923 Koeln, Germany

Abstract. This paper presents a high resolution reconstruction of local growing season temperature (GST) anomalies at Dürres Maar, Germany, spanning the last two millennia. The GST anomalies were derived from a stable carbon isotope time series of cellulose chemically extracted from Sphagnum leaves (δ13Ccellulose) separated from a kettle-hole peat deposit of several metres thickness. The temperature reconstruction is based on the Sphagnum δ13Ccellulose /temperature dependency observed in calibration studies. Reconstructed GST anomalies show considerable centennial and decadal scale variability. A cold and presumably also wet phase with below-average temperature is reconstructed between the 4th and 7th century AD which is in accordance with the so called European Migration Period marking the transition from the Late Roman Period to the Early Middle Ages. At High Medieval Times above-average temperatures are obvious followed by a temperature decrease. On the contrary, a pronounced Late Roman Climate Optimum, often described as similar warm or even warmer as medieval times, could not be detected. The temperature signal of the Little Ice Age (LIA) is not preserved in Dürres Maar due to considerable peat cutting that takes place in the first half of the 19th century. The local GST anomalies show a remarkable agreement to northern hemispheric temperature reconstructions based on tree-ring data sets and are also in accordance with climate reconstructions on the basis of lake sediments, glacier advances and retreats, and historical data sets. Most notably, e.g. during the Early Middle Ages and at High Medieval Times, temperatures were not low or high in general. Rather high frequency temperature variability with multiple narrow intervals of below- and above-average temperatures at maximum lasting a few decades are reconstructed. Especially the agreements between our estimated GST anomalies and the NH temperature reconstructions derived from tree-ring chronologies indicate the great potential of Sphagnum leaves δ13Ccellulose time series from peat deposits for palaeoclimate research. This is particularly the case, given that a quantitative δ13Ccellulose/temperature relationship has been found for several Sphagnum species. Although the time resolution of Sphagnum δ13Ccellulose data sets certainly wouldn't reach the annual resolution of tree-ring data, reconstructions of past temperature variability on the basis of this proxy hold one particular advantage: due to often relatively high peat accumulation rates, especially in kettle-hole bogs accumulated on temperate latitudes over periods of up to several millennia, they allow extending temperature reconstructions based on tree-ring series into the past to enhance our knowledge of natural climate variability during the Holocene.

Citation: Moschen, R., Kühl, N., Peters, S., Vos, H., and Lücke, A.: Temperature variability at Dürres Maar, Germany during the migration period and at high medieval times, inferred from stable carbon isotopes of Sphagnum cellulose, Clim. Past Discuss., 7, 535-573, doi:10.5194/cpd-7-535-2011, 2011.
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