Project C

Project C: Vegetation and climate change during the Dark Ages in The Lowlands

Principal investigator: M.T.I.J. Gouw-Bouman (PhD-student) 

It is imperative to have accurate reconstructions of vegetation and climatic changes for this period, which is the focus of this project. The key objectives are: (1) to develop a high-resolution reconstruction of climate in north-western Europe during the LRP and EMA; (2) to reconstruct vegetation patterns, changes and interregional differences during the LRP and EMA in The Lowlands; and (3) to assess the varying influence of human impact, landscape and climate on vegetation development.

To reconstruct temperature and precipitation changes during the LRP and EMA in north-western Europe a number of proxies are available. Temperature changes will be studied using chironomid larvae and tree-ring data. Changes in effective precipitation will be reconstructed using testate amoebae and tree-ring data. Changes in vegetation development will be studied using pollen, spores and Non Pollen Palynomorphs (NPP). The vegetation reconstruction will be based on all available palynological data and additional analyses on new sites. The three main research areas – coastal, river and pleistocene coversand – will be subdivided into uniform landform vegetation units to minimize the influence of different landscapes on vegetation development. A solid bio- and chronostratigraphic framework for each landform vegetation unit will be constructed using AMS 14C dating. To study the influence of human impact and climate change on vegetation development, palynological records, climatic records (chironomid, testate amoebae, tree-ring, ice-core) and data on human presence (subproject A) will be integrated and compared on local and regional scales.

Within the overall research programme, this project will provide a climatic and vegetation record during the LRP and EMA and will determine the relative importance of climate or human influence on vegetation development.