The Open UniversitySkip to content

Inferring late-Holocene climate in the Ecuadorian Andes using a chironomid-based temperature inference model

Matthews-Bird, Frazer; Brooks, Stephen J.; Holden, Philip B.; Montoya, Encarni and Gosling, William D. (2016). Inferring late-Holocene climate in the Ecuadorian Andes using a chironomid-based temperature inference model. Climate of the Past, 12 pp. 1263–1280.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (8MB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Presented here is the first chironomid calibration data set for tropical South America. Surface sediments were collected from 59 lakes across Bolivia (15 lakes), Peru (32 lakes), and Ecuador (12 lakes) between 2004 and 2013 over an altitudinal gradient from 150 m above sea level (a.s.l) to 4655 m a.s.l, between 0–17◦ S and 64–78◦ W. The study sites cover a mean annual temperature (MAT) gradient of 25 ◦ C. In total, 55 chironomid taxa were identified in the 59 calibration data set lakes. When used as a single explanatory variable, MAT explains 12.9% of the variance (λ12 =1.431). Two inference models were developed using weighted averaging (WA) and Bayesian methods. The best performing model using conventional statistical methods was a WA (inverse) model (R2jack= 0.890; RMSEPjack= 2.404 ◦C, RMSEP – root mean jack squared error of prediction; mean biasjack = −0.017 ◦C; max biasjack = 4.665 ◦C). The Bayesian method produced a model with R2jack = 0.909, RMSEPjack = 2.373 ◦C, mean jack biasjack = 0.598 ◦C, and max biasjack = 3.158 ◦C. Both models were used to infer past temperatures from a ca. 3000-year record from the tropical Andes of Ecuador, Laguna Pindo. Inferred temperatures fluctuated around modern-day conditions but showed significant departures at certain intervals (ca. 1600 cal yr BP; ca. 3000–2500 cal yr BP). Both methods (WA and Bayesian) showed similar patterns of temperature variability; however, the magnitude of fluctuations differed. In general the WA method was more variable and often underestimated Holocene temperatures (by ca. −7 ± 2.5 ◦C relative to the modern period). The Bayesian method provided temperature anomaly estimates for cool periods that lay within the expected range of the Holocene (ca. −3 ± 3.4 ◦C). The error associated with both reconstructions is consistent with a constant temperature of 20 ◦C for the past 3000 years. We would caution, however, against an over-interpretation at this stage. The reconstruction can only currently be deemed qualitative and requires more research before quantitative estimates can be generated with confidence. Increasing the number, and spread, of lakes in the calibration data set would enable the detection of smaller climate signals.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 The Authors
ISSN: 1814-9332
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Not SetNNX14AD31GNASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
Not SetNE/J018562/1NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
Not SetNE/J500288/1NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
Not SetNRCF010001NERC Radiocarbon Facility
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
Item ID: 46480
Depositing User: Philip Holden
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2016 09:51
Last Modified: 02 May 2019 18:30
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU