A molluscan perspective on hydrological cycle dynamics in northwestern Europe
Versteegh, E. A. A., Vonhof, H. B., Troelstra, S. R. and Kroon, D. (2010) A molluscan perspective on hydrological cycle dynamics in northwestern Europe. Netherlands Journal of Geosciences, 89 (1). pp. 49-58. ISSN 0016-7746
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Official URL: http://www.njgonline.nl/publish/articles/000428/en...
Shell aragonite δ18O values of unionid freshwater mussels are applied as a proxy for past river discharges in the rivers Rhine and Meuse, using a set of nine shells from selected climatic intervals during the late Holocene. A single Meuse shell derives from the Subboreal and its δ18O values are similar to modern values. The Rhine specimens represent the Subboreal, the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). These shells also show averages and ranges of aragonite δ18O values similar to modern specimens. This indicates that environmental conditions such as Rhine river dynamics, Alpine meltwater input and drought severity during these intervals were similar to the 20th century. These shells do not record subtle centennial to millennial climatic variation due to their relatively short lifespan and the large inter-annual and intra-seasonal variation in environmental conditions. However, they are very suitable for studying seasonal to decadal scale climate variability. The two shells with the longest lifespan appear to show decadal scale variability in reconstructed water δ18O values during the MWP, possibly forced by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which is the dominant mode of variability influencing precipitation regimes over Europe.