The climate of Scotland over the last 5000 years inferred from multiproxy peatland records: Inter-site correlations and regional variability

  • Langdon P
  • Barber K
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Abstract

The mid to late-Holocene climates of most of Scotland have been reconstructed from
seven peat bogs located across north–south and east–west geographical and climatological gradients.
The main techniques used for palaeoclimatic reconstruction were plant macrofossil, colorimetric
humification, and testate amoebae analyses, which were supported by a radiocarbon-based chronology,
aided by markers such as tephra isochrons and recent rises in pine pollen and in spheroidal
carbonaceous particles (SCPs). Field stratigraphy was undertaken at each site in order to show that the
changes detected within the peat profiles were replicable. Proxy climate records were reconstructed
using detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) of the plant macrofossil data and a mean water table
depth transfer function on the testate amoebae data. These reconstructions, coupled with the humification
data, were standardised for each site and used to produce a composite record of bog surface
wetness (BSW) from each site. The results show coherent wet and dry phases over the last 5000 years
and suggest regional differences in climate across Scotland, specifically between northern and southern
Scotland. Distinct climatic cycles are identified, all of which record a millennial-scale periodicity
which can be correlated with previously identified marine and ice core Holocene cycles. The key
role of the macrofossil remains of Sphagnum imbricatum, a taxon now extinct on many sites, is discussed
in relation to the identified climatic shifts.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Climate
  • Humification
  • Peat bog
  • Plant macrofossils
  • Scotland
  • Sphagnum imbricatum
  • Testate amoebae

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