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      Holocene climate and oceanography of the coastal Western United States and California Current System

      , , , ,
      Climate of the Past
      Copernicus GmbH

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          Abstract

          Abstract. Examination of climatic and oceanographic changes through the Holocene (11.75 ka–present) allows for an improved understanding and contextualization of modern climate change. Climate records of the Holocene can be utilized as a “baseline” from which to compare modern climate and can also provide insights into how environments experience and recover from change. However, individual studies on Holocene climate in the literature tend to focus on a distinct geographic location, a specific proxy record, or a certain aspect of climate (e.g., upwelling or precipitation), resulting in localized, record-specific trends rather than a comprehensive view of climate variability through the Holocene. Here we synthesize the major oceanographic and terrestrial changes that have occurred in the Western United States (bounded by 30 to 52∘ N and 115 to 130∘ W) through the most recent 11.75 kyr and explore the impacts of these changes on marine and terrestrial ecosystems. We present a novel spatiotemporal analysis of Holocene marine and terrestrial temperature, hydroclimate, and fire activity across the Early, Middle, and Late Holocene using a coded analysis of over 40 published studies. Following coded analysis of temperature, hydroclimate, and fire activity in the paper, we include a broader literature review of environmental change through the Holocene, including an examination of the impacts of multi-millennial climate trends on ecological communities. We find that the Early Holocene is characterized by warming relative to pre-Holocene conditions, including warm sea surface conditions, a warm and dry Pacific Northwest, a warm and wet Southwest, and overall spatial and temporal stability. In the Middle Holocene, these patterns reverse; this interval is characterized by cool sea surface temperatures, a cool and wet Pacific Northwest and warm and dry Southwest. The Late Holocene is the most variable interval, both spatially and temporally, and a novel spatial trend appears in terrestrial climate with warmer coastal areas and cooler inland areas. Human communities interacted with the environment throughout the entire Holocene, as evidenced in archeological and paleoenvironmental records, yet the recent Era of Colonization (1850–present) represents an unprecedented environmental interval in many records. Broadly, our analysis shows linkages between terrestrial and oceanographic conditions, distinct environmental phases through time, and emphasizes the importance of local factors in controlling climate through the dynamic Holocene.

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          Long-term aridity changes in the western United States.

          E. R. Cook (2004)
          The western United States is experiencing a severe multiyear drought that is unprecedented in some hydroclimatic records. Using gridded drought reconstructions that cover most of the western United States over the past 1200 years, we show that this drought pales in comparison to an earlier period of elevated aridity and epic drought in AD 900 to 1300, an interval broadly consistent with the Medieval Warm Period. If elevated aridity in the western United States is a natural response to climate warming, then any trend toward warmer temperatures in the future could lead to a serious long-term increase in aridity over western North America.
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            Large wildfire trends in the western United States, 1984-2011

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              The Last Glacial Maximum.

              We used 5704 14C, 10Be, and 3He ages that span the interval from 10,000 to 50,000 years ago (10 to 50 ka) to constrain the timing of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in terms of global ice-sheet and mountain-glacier extent. Growth of the ice sheets to their maximum positions occurred between 33.0 and 26.5 ka in response to climate forcing from decreases in northern summer insolation, tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures, and atmospheric CO2. Nearly all ice sheets were at their LGM positions from 26.5 ka to 19 to 20 ka, corresponding to minima in these forcings. The onset of Northern Hemisphere deglaciation 19 to 20 ka was induced by an increase in northern summer insolation, providing the source for an abrupt rise in sea level. The onset of deglaciation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet occurred between 14 and 15 ka, consistent with evidence that this was the primary source for an abrupt rise in sea level approximately 14.5 ka.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
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                Journal
                Climate of the Past
                Clim. Past
                Copernicus GmbH
                1814-9332
                2023
                January 24 2023
                : 19
                : 1
                : 199-232
                Article
                10.5194/cp-19-199-2023
                8ffe0e4c-8a06-4888-9b1f-d6bcc57f6881
                © 2023

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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