Problems with identifying the '8200-year cold event' in terrestrial records of the Atlantic seaboard: a case study from Dooagh, Achill Island, Ireland.

K. Head, C.S.M. Turney, Jonathan Pilcher, J.G. Palmer, Michael Baillie

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    16 Citations (Scopus)


    The Northern Hemisphere cooling event 8200 years ago is believed to represent the last known major freshwater pulse into the North Atlantic as a result of the final collapse of the North American Laurentide ice sheet. This pulse of water is generally believed to have occurred independently of orbital variations and provides an analogue for predicted increases in high-latitude precipitation and ice melt as a result of anthropogenically driven future climate change. The precise timing, duration and magnitude of this event, however, are uncertain, with suggestions that the 100-yr meltwater cooling formed part of a longer-term cold period in the early Holocene. Here we undertook a multiproxy, high-resolution investigation of a peat sequence at Dooagh, Achill Island, on the west coast of Ireland, to determine whether the 8200-year cold event impacted upon the terrestrial vegetation immediately downwind of the proposed changes in the North Atlantic. We find clear evidence for an oscillation in the early Holocene using various measures of pollen, indicating a disruption in the vegetation leading to a grassland-dominated landscape, most probably driven by changes in precipitation rather than temperature. Radiocarbon dating was extremely problematic, however, with bulk peat samples systematically too young for the North Atlantic event, suggesting significant contamination from downward root penetration. The sustained disruption to vegetation over hundreds of years at Dooagh indicates the landscape was impacted by a long-term cooling event in the early Holocene, and not the single century length 8200-year meltwater event proposed in many other records in the North Atlantic region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-75
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Palaeontology


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