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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 21 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 21 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Extreme warming rates affecting alpine areas in SW Europe deduced from algal lipids

Antonio García-Alix1,2,3, Jaime L. Toney2, Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno1, Carmen Pérez-Martínez4, Laura Jiménez4, Marta Rodrigo-Gámiz1, R. Scott Anderson5, Jon Camuera1, Francisco J. Jiménez-Espejo3, Dhais Peña-Angulo6, and María J. Ramos-Román7 Antonio García-Alix et al.
  • 1Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology, University of Granada, Granada, 18072, Spain
  • 2School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK
  • 3Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (IACT), CISC-UGR, Armilla, 18100, Spain
  • 4Department of Ecology and Institute of Water Research, University of Granada, Granada, 18072, Spain
  • 5School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
  • 6Department of Geography, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, 50009 Spain
  • 7Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, FI-00014, Finland

Abstract. Alpine ecosystems of the southern Iberian Peninsula are among the most vulnerable and the first to respond to modern climate change in southwestern Europe. While major environmental shifts have occurred over the last ~ 1500 years in these alpine environments, only changes in the recent centuries have led to extreme responses, but factors imposing the strongest stress have been unclear until now. To understand these environmental responses, here, for the first time, we calibrated algal lipids (long-chain diols) to instrumental data extending alpine temperatures backward 1500 years. These novel results highlight the enhanced effect of greenhouse gases on alpine temperatures during the last ~ 200 years and the long-term modulating role of solar forcing. This study also shows that warming rates during the 20th century (~ 0.18 ºC/decade) increased ~ 2.5 times with respect to the last stage of the Little Ice Age (~ 0.07 ºC/decade), even exceeding temperature trends of the high-altitude Alps during the 20th century. As a consequence, temperature exceeded the pre-industrial threshold in the 1950s, being one of the major forcings of the enhanced recent change in the alpine ecosystems from southern Iberia. Nevertheless, other factors reducing the snow and ice albedo (i.e. atmospheric deposition) may have influenced local glacier loss, since steady climate conditions predominated from middle 19th century to the first decades of the 20th century.

Antonio García-Alix et al.
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Antonio García-Alix et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In this paper we identify warming thresholds, rates, and forcing mechanisms from a novel record of Common Era temperature change from Southern Iberian Peninsula to contextualise modern warming and its potential impact on vulnerable alpine ecosystems. To do so, we have developed and applied the first lacustrine temperature calibration in alpine lakes for algal compounds called long-chain diols, a significant advance in biomarker paleothermometry.
In this paper we identify warming thresholds, rates, and forcing mechanisms from a novel record...