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Publication in “Nature Geoscience”

The CEZA took part in an international project to reconstruct the past climate during the cold periods. The CEZA contributed with a radiocarbon analysis (14C).

During the last ice age, the Northern Hemisphere experienced a series of abrupt climatic changes on a millennial scale related to fluctuations in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and sea ice extent. However, our understanding of the impact of these changes on decadal climate variability in Central Europe is limited by the lack of high-resolution continental archives. Here we present a near-annual record of Central European temperature reconstructed from the Eifelmaar lakes Holzmaar and Auel in Germany, spanning the last 60,000 years.

The lake sediments show a series of previously undocumented multidecadal climate cycles of about 20 to 150 years that lasted during the last ice age. The periodicity of these cycles suggests that they are related to the Atlantic multidecadal climate fluctuations found in the instrumental record and other climate archives during the Holocene.

Our records show that multidecadal variability in central Europe was strong during all warm interstadials, but was substantially dampened during all cold interstadials. We hypothesise that this decrease in multidecadal variability was the result of changes in atmospheric circulation associated with the weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and the expansion of North Atlantic sea ice cover during the coldest parts of the last ice age.