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

Langdon, P. and Barber, K.E. (2005) The climate of Scotland over the last 5000 years inferred from multiproxy peatland records: inter-site correlations and regional variability. Journal of Quaternary Science, 20, (6), 549-566. (doi:10.1002/jqs.934).


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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.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1002/jqs.934
Additional Information: The major paper from Langdon’s NERC doctoral project, conceived and supervised by Barber. Innovative in only using bogs containing tephras which allowed precise “pinning points” in the datasets, allowing regional comparisons at “snapshots in time”. Paper co-written and was the 4th most-accessed in JQS between January 2005 and August 2006.
ISSNs: 0267-8179 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: peat bog, climate, Scotland, plant macrofossils, humification, testate amoebae, Sphagnum imbricatum
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Q Science > QK Botany
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Geography > Environmental Processes and Change
ePrint ID: 37826
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
9 August 2005Published
12 November 2004Submitted
Date Deposited: 26 May 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:07

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