Abstract. This paper studies the impact of land use and land cover change (LULCC) on the climate around 2500 years ago (2.5 ka), a period of rapid transitions across the European landscape. One global climate model was used to force two regional climate models (RCMs). The RCMs used two land cover descriptions. The first was from a dynamical vegetation model representing potential land cover, and the second was from a land cover description reconstructed from pollen data by statistical interpolation. The two different land covers enable us to study the impact of land cover on climate conditions. Since the difference in landscape openness between potential and reconstructed land cover is mostly due to LULCC, this can be taken as a measure of early anthropogenic effects on climate. Since the sensitivity to LULCC is dependent on the choice of climate model, we also use two RCMs. The results show that the simulated 2.5 ka climate was warmer than the simulated pre-industrial (PI, 1850 CE) climate. The largest differences are seen in northern Europe, where the 2.5 ka climate is 2–4 ∘C warmer than the PI period. In summer, the difference between the simulated 2.5 ka and PI climates is smaller (0–3 ∘C), with the smallest differences in southern Europe. Differences in seasonal precipitation are mostly within ±10 %. In parts of northern Europe, the 2.5 ka climate is up to 30 % wetter in winter than that of the PI climate. In summer there is a tendency for the 2.5 ka climate to be drier than the PI climate in the Mediterranean region. The results also suggest that LULCC at 2.5 ka impacted the climate in parts of Europe. Simulations including reconstructed LULCC (i.e. those using pollen-derived land cover descriptions) give up to 1 ∘C higher temperature in parts of northern Europe in winter and up to 1.5 ∘C warmer in southern Europe in summer than simulations with potential land cover. Although the results are model dependent, the relatively strong response implies that anthropogenic land cover changes that had occurred during the Neolithic and Bronze Age could have affected the European climate by 2.5 ka.



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Climate of the Past





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School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences