Revealing climatic variability of the last three millennia in northwestern Iberia using pollen influx data
Climatic variability of the last 3 millennia in NW Iberia has been documented using high-resolution pollen analysis of Vir-18 core, retrieved from the Ría de Vigo (42°14.07′N, 8°47.37′W). The depth-age model is based on two accelerator mass spectrometry 14C dates and three historically dated botanical events in Galicia: the expansion of Juglans and Pinus, as well as the introduction of Eucalyptus. During the last 3000 years, the relative pollen record demonstrates the occurrence of an open deciduous oak forest, indicating a humid and temperate climate in northwestern Iberia. Two-step forest reduction since 975 cal BC suggests climate as the main cause rather than major socio-economic changes documented in historical archives. Absolute pollen influx has been compared with instrumental summer and winter temperatures and tentatively used as a proxy of short (decadal-scale) and low-amplitude (∼1°C) temperature variations. This new approach allows us to detect for the first time in NW Iberia the millennial-scale climatic cyclicity suggested by North Atlantic records, challenging the apparent climatic stability reflected by the relative pollen record. The Little Ice Age is recorded as low pollen influx values between 1400 and 1860 cal AD, with a cold maximum at 1700 cal AD (Maunder Minimum). The Roman and Medieval Warm Periods are detected through high pollen influx values at 250 cal BC-450 cal AD and 950-1400 cal AD, respectively.