8000 years of North Atlantic storminess reconstructed from a Scottish peat record: implications for Holocene atmospheric circulation patterns in Western Europe

Helena Stewart, Tom Bradwell, Joanna E. Bullard, Sarah Davies, Robert McCulloch

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Abstract

North Atlantic storminess can affect human settlements, infrastructure and transport links, all of which strongly impact on local, national and global economies. An increase in storm frequency and intensity is predicted over the NE Atlantic in the 21st century as a result of a northward shift in storm tracks and a persistently positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), probably in response to anthropogenic climate change. Although documentary records of North Atlantic storminess exist, these are generally limited to the last c. 1000-2000 years. This paper presents a continuous high-resolution proxy record of storminess spanning the last 8000 years from a 6m long core taken from a peat bog in Northern Scotland. Bromine concentrations in the peat, derived from sea spray, are used to reconstruct storm frequency and storm intensity, and mire surface wetness is used as an indicator of longer-term climate shifts. The results suggest a strong relationship between positive phases of the NAO and storminess. Subtle differences between the bromine concentrations and the mire surface wetness suggest that high intensity but perhaps less frequent periods of storminess are not necessarily associated with a wetter climate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1084
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Volume32
Issue number8
Early online date13 Sept 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2017

Keywords

  • Holocene storminess
  • NAO
  • micro-XRF
  • mire surface
  • wetness
  • Scotland

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