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 ĝ'1/41500 years in these alpine ecosystems, only changes in the recent centuries have led to abrupt environmental responses, but factors imposing the strongest stress have been unclear until now. To understand these environmental responses, this study, for the first time, has calibrated an algal lipid-derived temperature proxy (based on long-chain alkyl diols) to instrumental historical data extending alpine temperature reconstructions to 1500 years before present. These novel results highlight the enhanced effect of greenhouse gases on alpine temperatures during the last ĝ'1/4200 years and the long-term modulating role of solar forcing. This study also shows that the warming rate during the 20th century (ĝ'1/40.18ĝ' C per decade) was double that of the last stages of the Little Ice Age (ĝ'1/40.09ĝ' C per decade), even exceeding temperature trends of the high-altitude Alps during the 20th century. As a consequence, temperature exceeded the preindustrial record in the 1950s, and it has been one of the major forcing processes of the recent enhanced change in these alpine ecosystems from southern Iberia since then. Nevertheless, other factors reducing the snow and ice albedo (e.g., atmospheric deposition) may have influenced local glacier loss, since almost steady climate conditions predominated from the middle 19th century to the first decades of the 20th century.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Global and Planetary Change