Late Holocene ecohydrological and carbon dynamics of a UK raised bog: Impact of human activity and climate change

T. Edward Turner*, Graeme T. Swindles, Katherine H. Roucoux

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Understanding the ecohydrological responses of peatlands to climate change is particularly challenging over the late Holocene owing to the confounding influence of anthropogenic activity. To address this, a core spanning the last ~2400 years from a raised bog in northern England was analysed using a comprehensive suite of proxy methods in an attempt to elucidate the drivers of change. A testate amoebae-based transfer function was used to quantitatively reconstruct changes in water table depth, supported by humification analysis and a plant macrofossil-derived hydroclimatic index. Pollen and plant macrofossil data were used to examine regional and local vegetation change, and human impacts were inferred from charcoal and geochemistry. Chronological control was achieved through a Bayesian age-depth model based on AMS radiocarbon dates and spheroidal carbonaceous particles, from which peat and carbon accumulation rates were calculated. Phases of both increased and decreased bog surface wetness (inferred effective precipitation) are present, with dry phases at c. AD 320-830, AD 920-1190 and AD 1850-present, and a marked period of increased effective precipitation at c. AD 1460-1850. Coherence with other records from across Northern Europe suggests that these episodes are primarily driven by allogenic climatic change. Periods of high bog surface wetness correspond to the Wolf, Spörer and Maunder sunspot activity minima, suggesting solar forcing was a significant driver of climate change over the last ~1000 years. Following the intensification of agriculture and industry over the last two centuries, the combined climatic and anthropogenic forcing effects become increasingly difficult to separate due to increases in atmospheric deposition of anthropogenically derived pollutants, fertilising compounds, and additions of wind-blown soil dust. We illustrate the need for multiproxy approaches based on high-resolution palaeoecology and geochemistry to examine the recent trajectories of peatlands.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-85
    Number of pages21
    JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2014


    • Climatic change
    • Holocene
    • Human influence
    • Multiproxy
    • Peatland
    • UK

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Global and Planetary Change
    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Archaeology
    • Archaeology
    • Geology


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