Our paper “The Potential of Speleothems from Western Europe as Recorders of Regional Climate: A Critical Assessment of the SISAL Database” is now on-line in Quaternary. This is a contribution to the Quaternary Special Issue on “Speleothem records and climate” that reviews the status of speleothem research in Western Europe and assesses the speleothem records that have been included in the first version of the SISAL database.

In this paper, we investigate how the spatial distribution of the records in the database is representative for climate conditions in Europe and compare modern speleothem data to precipitation δ18O. Overall, speleothem δ18O mirrors the spatial trends found in precipitation δ18O, highlighting the potential of this archive for palaeo-precipitation and -temperature reconstructions. Coherent regional trends in speleothem δ18O are found over stadial-interstadial transitions of the last glacial, especially in high altitude Alpine records that reflect a dominant temperature signal. Over the Holocene and the last 2000 years, regional trends are more difficult to capture, due to lower signal-to-noise ratios in interglacial climate at mid-latitude sites, as well as issues with chronological uncertainty and resolution in the records. These results highlight the potential of Western Europe for speleothem palaeoclimate reconstruction, and for the evaluation of climate model outputs.

Figure showing the distribution of karsts in Western Europe, provided by the World Karst Aquifer Mapping project (WOKAM) and the European speleothem records in the SISAL_v1 database.
Authors of the study: Franziska A. Lechleitner (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1); Sahar Amirnezhad-Mozhdehi (UCD School of Earth Sciences, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland); Andrea Columbu (Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Zamboni 67, 40126 Bologna, Italy); Laia Comas-Bru (Centre for Past Climate Change and School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Sciences, Reading University, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AH, UK); Inga Labuhn (Institute of Geography, University of Bremen, Germany); Carlos Pérez-Mejías (Department of Geoenvironmental Processes and Global Change, Pyrenean Institute of Ecology, Avda. Montañana 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain) and Kira Rehfeld (Institute of Environmental Physics, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 229, 69210 Heidelberg, Germany)