Holocene climates of the Iberian Peninsula: pollen-based reconstructions of changes in the west–east gradient of temperature and moisture
The Iberian Peninsula is characterized by a steep west–east moisture gradient at present, reflecting the dominance of maritime influences along the Atlantic coast and more Mediterranean-type climate further east. Holocene pollen records from the Peninsula suggest that this gradient was less steep during the mid-Holocene, possibly reflecting the impact of orbital changes on circulation and thus regional patterns in climate. Here, we use 7214 pollen samples from 117 sites covering part or all of the last 12 000 years to reconstruct changes in seasonal temperature and in moisture across the Iberian Peninsula quantitatively. We show that there is an increasing trend in winter temperature at a regional scale, consistent with known changes in winter insolation. However, summer temperatures do not show the decreasing trend through the Holocene that would be expected if they were a direct response to insolation forcing. We show that summer temperature is strongly correlated with plant-available moisture (α), as measured by the ratio of actual evapotranspiration to equilibrium evapotranspiration, which declines through the Holocene. The reconstructions also confirm that the west–east gradient in moisture was considerably less steep during the mid-Holocene than today, indicating that atmospheric circulation changes (possibly driven by orbital changes) have been important determinants of the Holocene climate of the region.