The Holocene

  • John L. Brooke


This chapter provides a general overview of climatic patterns and trends during the Holocene. Global climate during the Holocene responded to orbital, solar, and volcanic forcings, as well as internal variability. Global climate shifts influenced atmospheric circulation patterns, such as the migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which in turn influenced local weather patterns. From a climate perspective, the Holocene can be roughly divided into three periods: an early period of maximum Northern Hemisphere summer insolation; a middle period of weakening summer monsoons in the Northern Hemisphere; and a late period marked by periodic cooling, strengthening El Niños, and more restricted seasonal migration of the ITCZ.


  1. Anderson, David G. “Climate and Culture Change in Prehistoric and Early Historic Eastern North America.” Archaeology of Eastern North America 29 (2001): 143–86.Google Scholar
  2. Berger, A., and M.F. Loutre. “Insolation Values for the Climate of the Last 10 Million Years.” Quaternary Science Reviews 10 (1991): 297–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bradley, Raymond S. Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary. Third edition. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2015.Google Scholar
  4. Brooke, John L. Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough Journey. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cronin, Thomas M. Paleoclimates: Understanding Climate Change Past and Present. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.Google Scholar
  6. deMenocal, P. et al. “Abrupt Onset and Termination of the African Humid Period: Rapid Climate Responses to Gradual Insolation Forcing.” Quaternary Science Reviews 19 (2000): 347–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dykoski, Carolyn A. et al. “A High-Resolution, Absolute-Dated Holocene and Deglacial Asian Monsoon Record from Dongge Cave, China.” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 233 (2005): 71–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Esper, Jan et al. “Orbital Forcing of Tree-Ring Data.” Nature Climate Change 2 (2012): 862–66.Google Scholar
  9. Fowler, Brenda. Iceman: Uncovering the Life and Times of a Prehistoric Man Found in an Alpine Glacier. New York: Random House, 2000.Google Scholar
  10. Grootes, P.M., and M. Stuiver. “Oxygen 18/16 Variability in Greenland Snow and Ice with 10^3 to 10^5-Year Time Resolution.” Journal of Geophysical Research 102 (1997): 26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Haug, Gerald H. et al. “Southward Migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone Through the Holocene.” Science 293 (2001): 1304–08.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Marcott, Shaun A. et al. “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years.” Science 339 (2013): 1198–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mayewski, Paul A. et al. “Holocene Climate Variability.” Quaternary Research 62 (2004): 243–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Moy, C.M. et al. “Variability of El Niño/Southern Oscillation Activity at Millennial Timescales during the Holocene Epoch.” Nature 420 (2002): 162–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nussbaumer, Samuel U. et al. “Alpine Climate during the Holocene: A Comparison between Records of Glaciers, Lake Sediments and Solar Activity.” Journal of Quaternary Science 26 (2011): 703–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Roberts, Neill. The Holocene: An Environmental History. Third edition. New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2014.Google Scholar
  17. Roberts, N. et al. “The Mid-Holocene Climatic Transition in the Mediterranean: Causes and Consequences.” The Holocene 21 (2011): 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rohling, E. et al. “Holocene Atmosphere-Ocean Interactions: Records from Greenland and the Aegean Sea.” Climate Dynamics 18 (2002): 587–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Shapiro, A.I. et al. “A New Approach to the Long-Term Reconstruction of the Solar Irradiance Leads to Large Historical Solar Forcing.” Astronomy and Astrophysics 529 (2011): A67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wanner, H. et al. “Holocene Climate Variability and Change: A Data-Based Review.” Journal of the Geological Society 172 (2015): 254–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John L. Brooke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations