Journal cover Journal topic
Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/cp-2016-104
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
02 Nov 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).
Climatic history of the northeastern United States during the past 3000 years
Jennifer R. Marlon1, Neil Pederson2, Connor Nolan3, Simon Goring4, Bryan Shuman5, Robert Booth6, Patrick J. Bartlein7, Melissa A. Berke8, Michael Clifford9, Edward Cook10, Ann Dieffenbacher-Krall11, Michael C. Dietze12, Amy Hessl13, J. Bradford Hubeny14, Stephen T. Jackson3,15, Jeremiah Marsicek5, Jason McLachlan16, Cary J. Mock17, David J. P. Moore18, Jonathan Nichols19, Ann Robertson1, Kevin Schaefer20, Valerie Trouet21, Charles Umbanhowar22, John W. Williams4, and Zicheng Yu6 1Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, CT 06511, USA
2Harvard Forest, Harvard University, MA 01366, USA
3Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, AZ 85721, USA
4Department of Geography, Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53706, USA
5Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wyoming, WY 82071, USA
6Earth and Environmental Science Department, Lehigh University, PA 18015, USA
7Department of Geography, University of Oregon, OR 89108, USA
8Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
9Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA
10Tree-Ring Laboratory, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, NY 10964, USA
11School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, ME 04469 USA
12Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, MA, 02215 USA
13Department of Geology and Geography, West Virginia University, WV 26501, USA
14Department of Geological Sciences, Salem State University, Salem, MA 01970, USA
15Southwest Climate Science Center, US Geological Survey, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
16Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
17Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, SC 29208, USA
18Department of Geosciences and School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
19Biology and Paleo Environment, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, NY 10964, USA
20Snow and Ice Data Center, CIRES, University of Colorado, CO 80309, USA
21Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, AZ 85721, USA
22Department of Biology, St. Olaf College, MN 55057, USA
Abstract. Many ecosystem processes that influence Earth system feedbacks, including vegetation growth, water and nutrient cycling, and disturbance regimes, are strongly influenced by multi-decadal to millennial-scale variations in climate that cannot be captured by instrumental climate observations. Paleoclimate information is therefore essential for understanding contemporary ecosystems and their potential trajectories under a variety of future climate conditions. With the exception of fossil pollen records, there are a limited number of northeastern US (NE US) paleoclimate archives that can provide constraints on its temperature and hydroclimate history. Moreover, the records that do exist have not been considered together. Tree-ring data indicate that the 20th century was one of the wettest of the past 500 years in the eastern US (Pederson et al., 2014), and lake-level records suggest it was one of the wettest in the Holocene (Newby et al., 2014); how such results compare with other available data remains unclear, however. Here we conduct a systematic review, assessment, and comparison of paleotemperature and paleohydrological proxies from the NE US for the last 3000 years. Regional temperature reconstructions are consistent with the long-term cooling trend (1000 BCE–1700 CE) evident in hemispheric-scale reconstructions, but hydroclimate reconstructions reveal new information, including an abrupt transition from wet to dry conditions around 550–750 CE. NE US paleo data suggest that conditions during the Medieval Climate Anomaly were warmer and drier than during the Little Ice Age, and drier than today. There is some evidence for an acceleration over the past century of a longer-term wetting trend in the NE US, and coupled with the abrupt shift from a cooling trend to a warming trend from increased greenhouse gases, may have wide-ranging implications for species distributions, ecosystem dynamics, and extreme weather events. More work is needed to gather paleoclimate data in the NE US, make inter-proxy comparisons, and improve estimates of uncertainty in the reconstructions.

Citation: Marlon, J. R., Pederson, N., Nolan, C., Goring, S., Shuman, B., Booth, R., Bartlein, P. J., Berke, M. A., Clifford, M., Cook, E., Dieffenbacher-Krall, A., Dietze, M. C., Hessl, A., Hubeny, J. B., Jackson, S. T., Marsicek, J., McLachlan, J., Mock, C. J., Moore, D. J. P., Nichols, J., Robertson, A., Schaefer, K., Trouet, V., Umbanhowar, C., Williams, J. W., and Yu, Z.: Climatic history of the northeastern United States during the past 3000 years, Clim. Past Discuss., doi:10.5194/cp-2016-104, in review, 2016.
Jennifer R. Marlon et al.
Jennifer R. Marlon et al.
Jennifer R. Marlon et al.

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Short summary
To improve our understanding of paleoclimate in the northeastern (NE) US, we compiled data from pollen, tree rings, lake levels, testate amoeba from bogs, and other proxies from the last 3000 years. The paleoclimate synthesis supports long-term cooling until the 1800s and reveals an abrupt transition from wet to dry conditions around 550–750 CE. Evidence suggests the region is now becoming warmer and wetter, but more calibrated data are needed, especially to capture multi-decadal variability.
To improve our understanding of paleoclimate in the northeastern (NE) US, we compiled data from...
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