Unlike the most recent deglaciation, the regional expression of climate changes during the penultimate deglaciation remains under-studied, even though it led into a period of excess warmth with estimates of global average temperature 1–2 °C, and sea level ∼6 m, above pre-industrial values. We present the first complete high-resolution southern European diatom record capturing the penultimate glacial-interglacial transition, from Lake Ioannina (northwest Greece). It forms part of a suite of proxies selected to assess the character and phase relationships of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem response to rapid climate warming, and to resolve apparent conflicts in proxy evidence for regional paleohydrology. The diatom data suggest a complex penultimate deglaciation driven primarily by multiple oscillations in lake level, and provide firm evidence for the regional influence of abrupt changes in North Atlantic conditions. There is diachroneity in lake and terrestrial ecosystem response to warming at the onset of the last interglacial, with an abrupt increase in lake level occurring ∼2.7 k.y. prior to sustained forest expansion with peak precipitation. We identify the potentially important role of direct input of snow melt and glacial meltwater transfer to the subterranean karst system in response to warming, which would cause rising regional groundwater levels. This explanation, and the greater sensitivity of diatoms to subtle changes in temperature, reconciles the divergent lacustrine and terrestrial proxy evidence and highlights the sensitivity of lakes situated in mountainous karstic environments to past climate warming.
- Received 23 March 2015.
- Revision received 29 June 2015.
- Accepted 8 July 2015.
- © Geological Society of America
Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.