Midges Versus Pollen for Understanding Past Climate – 365papers – 2017 – 79

#365papers for March 20, 2017

Samartin, Heiri, Joos, Renssen, Franke, Bronnimann, and Tinner, 2017, Warm Mediterranean mid-H0locene summers inferred from fossil midge assemblages: Nature Geoscience, v. 10, p. 207-212.

What’s it about?

Many global climate records show an episode of warming between 9000 and 5000 years ago. However, in the eastern Mediterranean region, the usual tools used to estimate temperature (in this case pollen) suggested that this was a cooler interval. The authors use fossilized larval chironomids (non-biting midges) found in lake deposits as another means to estimate summertime temperatures. The midges do show the expected warmth.

Why does it matter?

This study shows that reliance on a single method to estimate past environments can result in errors. Multiple lines of evidence should be used and can help us understand contradictory information when it arises.

Why did I read this?

I’m always interested in learning new ways to infer temperature from the fossil record. Who knew insects could be useful?

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