Abstract

Differentiating natural climate change from anthropogenic forcing is a major challenge in the prediction of future climates. In this context, the investigation of interglacials provides valuable information on natural climate variability during periods that resemble the present. This paper shows that natural cyclic changes in winter climates affected central European environments during the last interglacial, i.e., the Eemian, 126–110 ka. As a result of the extraordinarily high counting sums performed at Eemian pollen samples, it was possible to reveal a robust presence–absence pattern of the insect-pollinated, and therefore in the pollen rain underrepresented, taxon Hedera. This plant is known to require the influence of oceanic winter climates, i.e., moist and mild, in northwest and central Europe. By analogy with recent findings from the North Atlantic's Holocene interglacial, the trigger of the Eemian climate variability may have been changes in solar activity, possibly amplified by changes in North Atlantic ocean currents and/or in the North Atlantic Oscillation. Our findings suggest natural cyclic changes to be a persistent feature of interglacial climates.

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