Letters to Nature

Nature 413, 293-296 (20 September 2001) | doi:10.1038/35095037; Received 25 April 2001; Accepted 19 July 2001

High-resolution record of climate stability in France during the last interglacial period

Patrick Rioual1, Valérie Andrieu-Ponel2, Miri Rietti-Shati3, Richard W. Battarbee1, Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu2, Rachid Cheddadi2, Maurice Reille2, Helena Svobodova4 & Aldo Shemesh3

  1. Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP, UK
  2. Institut Méditerranéen d'Ecologie et Paléoécologie (UMR-CNRS 6116), UDESAM, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques de Saint Jérôme, 13397 Marseille Cedex 20, France
  3. Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel
  4. Botanical Institute, CZ-25243 Pruhonice, Prague, Czech Republic

Correspondence to: Patrick Rioual1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to P.R. (e-mail: Email: prioual@geog.ucl.ac.uk).

The last interglacial period (127–110 kyr ago) has been considered to be an analogue to the present interglacial period, the Holocene, which may help us to understand present climate evolution. But whereas Holocene climate has been essentially stable in Europe, variability in climate during the last interglacial period has remained unresolved, because climate reconstructions from ice cores1, 2, continental records3, 4 and marine sediment cores5, 6 give conflicting results for this period7. Here we present a high-resolution multi-proxy lacustrine record of climate change during the last interglacial period, based on oxygen isotopes in diatom silica, diatom assemblages and pollen–climate transfer functions from the Ribains maar in France. Contrary to a previous study8, our data do not show a cold event interrupting the warm interglacial climate. Instead, we find an early temperature maximum with a transition to a colder climate about halfway through the sequence. The end of the interglacial period is clearly marked by an abrupt change in all proxy records. Our study confirms that in southwestern Europe the last interglacial period was a time of climatic stability and is therefore still likely to represent a useful analogue for the present climate.