Global Synthesis of Regional Holocene Hydroclimate Variability Using Proxy and Model Data

Christopher L. Hancock, Nicholas P. McKay, Michael P. Erb, Darrell S. Kaufman, Cody R. Routson, Ruza F. Ivanovic, Lauren J. Gregoire, Paul Valdes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Substantial changes in terrestrial hydroclimate during the Holocene are recorded in geological archives and simulated by computer models. To identify spatial and temporal patterns during the past 12 ka, proxy records sensitive to changing precipitation and effective moisture (precipitation minus evaporation) were compiled from across the globe (n = 813). Proxy composite timeseries were computed for 30 of the IPCC AR6 regions and compared to two full-Holocene transient model simulations (TraCE-21ka and HadCM3) and twelve mid-Holocene CMIP6 simulations. We find that throughout Northern Hemisphere monsoon regions, proxy and model simulations indicate wetter-than-modern conditions during the early and mid-Holocene while Southern Hemisphere monsoon regions were drier. This insolation driven trend toward modern values began approximately 6,000 years ago, and the clear agreement among proxy records and models may reflect the large magnitude of precipitation change and consistent atmospheric circulation forcing mechanism for these regions. In the midlatitudes, the pattern of change is less certain. Generally, proxy composites show a wetting trend throughout the Holocene for the northern midlatitudes, possibly due to strengthening westerlies from an increasing latitudinal temperature gradient. However, simulations indicate that the magnitude of change was relatively low, and for portions of North America, there is a proxy-model disagreement. At high latitudes, hydroclimate is positively correlated with temperature in both proxies and models, consistent with projected wetting as temperatures rise. Overall, this large proxy database reveals a coherent pattern of hydroclimate variability despite the challenges associated with reconstructing hydroclimate fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022PA004597
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Holocene
  • hydrocliamte
  • model
  • paleoclimate
  • proxy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Palaeontology


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