Multiple Thermal Maxima During the Holocene

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Science  10 Aug 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4662, pp. 617-619
DOI: 10.1126/science.225.4662.617


The astronomical theory of climatic change provides an alternative to the traditional chronology for Holocene climatic change, which calls for one thermal maximum about 6000 years ago. The theory predicts a series of maxima during the Holocene, one for each season. Because the relation of the perihelion to the spring equinox changes with a 22,000-year period, late summer insolation would have been greatest 5000 years ago, whereas early summer insolation would have been greatest 13,000 years ago. Climatic reconstructions based on the response of ecosystems to late summer climate indicate a later Holocene thermal maximum than paleoclimatic data sensitive to early summer climate. In southern Idaho, three different vegetation types indicate thermal maxima at different times during the Holocene, depending on the climatic variable controlling each type.

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