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Journal Article

Europe on fire three thousand years ago: Arson or climate?


Bruecher,  Tim
Climate-Biogeosphere Interaction, The Land in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Zennaro, P., Kehrwald, N., Marlon, J., Ruddiman, W. F., Bruecher, T., Agostinelli, C., et al. (2015). Europe on fire three thousand years ago: Arson or climate? Geophysical Research Letters, 42, 5023-5033. doi:10.1002/2015GL064259.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0028-2953-E
The timing of initiation of human impacts on the global climate system is actively debated. Anthropogenic effects on the global climate system are evident since the Industrial Revolution, but humans may have altered biomass burning, and hence the climate system, for millennia. We use the specific biomarker levoglucosan to produce the first high-temporal resolution hemispheric reconstruction of Holocene fire emissions inferred from ice core analyses. Levoglucosan recorded in the Greenland North Greenland Eemian ice core significantly increases since the last glacial, resulting in a maximum around similar to 2.5ka and then decreasing until the present. Here we demonstrate that global climate drivers fail to explain late Holocene biomass burning variations and that the levoglucosan maximum centered on similar to 2.5ka may be due to anthropogenic land clearance.