Shell aragonite delta(18)0 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 delta(18)0 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 delta(18)0 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 20(th) 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 delta(18)0 values during the MWP, possibly forced by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which is the dominant mode of variability influencing precipitation regimes over Europe.
|Journal||Netherlands Journal of Geosciences = Geologie en Mijnbouw|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|