Latest Holocene paleoenvironmental and paleoclimate reconstruction from an alpine bog in the Western Mediterranean region: The Borreguil de los Lavaderos de la Reina record (Sierra Nevada)

Alejandro López-Avilés, Antonio García-Alix, Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno, R. S. Anderson, Jaime L. Toney, Jose M. Mesa-Fernández, Francisco J. Jiménez-Espejo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Several organic and inorganic geochemical analyses have been carried out in the sedimentary record of the Borreguil de los Lavaderos de la Reina (BdlR-03), an alpine peat bog located on the north face of the Sierra Nevada (southern Iberian Peninsula). This study permitted a high-resolution reconstruction of paleoenvironmental evolution for the last ~2700 cal yr BP in the highest mountain range of southern Iberian Peninsula. An overall trend towards a climatic aridification and a reduction of aquatic environments is observed in this record. Insolation and long-term positive North Atlantic Oscillation trends were the most important factors controlling this aridification, forcing regional and local environmental changes. Four phases are differentiated within the paleoenvironmental evolution of BdlR-03: (1) a pre-bog environment from 2700 to 2600 cal yr BP with important siliciclastic sedimentation and low organic content; (2) a bog environment with important presence of terrestrial vascular plant, water availability and maximum humid conditions between ~2600 and ~1870 cal yr BP, coinciding with the Iberian-Roman Humid Period; (3) a subsequent drier bog environment, between ~1870 and ~300 cal yr BP during the Dark Ages, the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the first stages of the Little Ice Age, characterized by lower productivity that affected the development of terrestrial vascular plants and aquatic environments; and (4) a wetland environment with an increase of aquatic algae, development of ephemeral pools and unstable climate conditions between ~300 cal yr BP and the present, coinciding with the final stages of the Little Ice Age and the Modern Global Warming. This recent environmental pattern, which is opposite to the general aridification trend in the western Mediterranean, is likely explained by the gradual melting of the perennial ice and/or snow packs at higher elevations in the last centuries. Aeolian inputs would have continuously contributed nutrients to these nutrient-impoverished alpine environments. High dust inputs are especially noticed during the last ~200 years, which can be explained by human-induced enhanced aridification and the development of the commercial agriculture in some North African regions. In addition, the environmental signal in the last century seems to be significantly affected by human activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110434
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • Alpine wetland
  • Climate change
  • Geochemistry
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Late Holocene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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