Modelling the vegetation response to the 8.2 ka BP cooling event in Europe and Northern Africa

Huan Li*, Hans Renssen, Didier M. Roche, Paul A. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The 8.2 ka bp cooling event is assumed to be the most clearly marked abrupt climate event in the Holocene at northern mid- to high latitudes. In this study, we simulate the vegetation responses to the 8.2 ka bp climate change event over Europe and Northern Africa. Our results show that all dominant plant functional types (PFTs) over Europe and North Africa respond to these climate changes, but the magnitude, timing and impact factor of their responses are different. Compared with pollen-based vegetation reconstructions, our simulation generally captures the main features of vegetation responses to the 8.2 ka bp event. Interestingly, in Western Europe, the simulated vegetation after perturbation is different from its initial state, which is consistent with two high-resolution pollen records. This different vegetation composition indicates the long-lasting impact of abrupt climate change on vegetation through eco-physiological and ecosystem demographic processes, such as plant competition. Moreover, our simulations suggest a latitudinal gradient in the magnitude of the event, with more pronounced vegetation responses to the severe cooling in the north and weaker responses to less severe cooling in the south. This effect is not seen in pollen records.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-661
Number of pages12
JournalJQS. Journal of Quaternary Science
Issue number8
Early online date3 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • 8.2 ka bp cooling event
  • long-lasting effects of abrupt climate change
  • plant functional types (PFTs)
  • pollen reconstructions
  • vegetation simulations comparisons

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