Millennial-scale cyclical environment and climate variability during the Holocene in the western Mediterranean region deduced from a new multi-proxy analysis from the Padul record (Sierra Nevada, Spain)

María J. Ramos-Román, Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno, Jon Camuera, Antonio García-Alix, Scott R Anderson, Francisco J. Jiménez-Espejo, Dirk Sachse, Jaime L. Toney, José S. Carrión, Cole Webster, Yurena Yanes

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13 Scopus citations


A high-resolution multi-proxy approach, integrating pollen, inorganic and organic geochemical and sedimentological analyses, has been carried out on the Holocene section of the Padul sedimentary record in the southern Iberian Peninsula reconstructing vegetation, environment and climate throughout the last ~ 11.6 cal kyr BP in the western Mediterranean. The study of the entire Holocene allows us to determine the significant climate shift that occurred during the middle-to-late Holocene transition. The highest occurrence of deciduous forest in the Padul area from ~ 9.5 to 7.6 cal kyr BP represents the Holocene humidity optimum probably due to enhanced winter precipitation during a phase of highest seasonal anomaly and maximum summer insolation. Locally, insolation maxima induced high evaporation, counterbalancing the effect of relatively high precipitation, and triggered very low water table in Padul and the deposition of peat sediments. A transitional environmental change towards more regional aridity occurred from ~ 7.6 to 4.7 cal kyr BP and then aridification enhanced in the late Holocene most likely related to decreasing summer insolation. This translated into higher water levels and a sedimentary change at ~ 4.7 cal kyr BP in the Padul wetland, probably related to reduced evaporation during summer in response to decreased in seasonality. Millennial-scale variability is superimposed on the Holocene long-term trends. The Mediterranean forest regional climate proxy studied here shows significant cold-arid events around ~ 9.6, 8.5, 7.5, 6.5 and 5.4 cal kyr BP with cyclical periodicities (~1100 and 2100 yr) during the early and middle Holocene. A change is observed in the periodicity of these cold-arid events towards ~1430 yr in the late Holocene, with forest declines around ~ 4.7–4, 2.7 and 1.3 cal kyr BP. The comparison between the Padul-15-05 data with published North Atlantic and Mediterranean paleoclimate records suggests common triggers for the observed climate variability, with the early and middle Holocene forest declines at least partially controlled by external forcing (i.e. solar activity) and the late Holocene variability associated with internal mechanisms (oceanic-atmospheric).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-53
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018



  • Arid events
  • Atmospheric-oceanic dynamics
  • Holocene
  • Padul
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Wavelet analysis
  • Western Mediterranean
  • Wetland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Oceanography

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