Among abundant reconstructions of Holocene climate in Europe, only a handful has addressed winter conditions, and most of these are restricted in length and/or resolution. Here we present a record of late autumn through early winter air temperature and moisture source changes in East-Central Europe for the Holocene, based on stable isotopic analysis of an ice core recovered from a cave in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains. During the past 10,000 years, reconstructed temperature changes followed insolation, with a minimum in the early Holocene, followed by gradual and continuous increase towards the mid-to-late-Holocene peak (between 4-2 kcal BP), and finally by a decrease after 0.8 kcal BP towards a minimum during the Little Ice Age (AD 1300–1850). Reconstructed early Holocene atmospheric circulation patterns were similar to those characteristics of the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), while in the late Holocene they resembled those prevailing in the positive NAO phase. The transition between the two regimes occurred abruptly at around 4.7 kcal BP. Remarkably, the widespread cooling at 8.2 kcal BP is not seen very well as a temperature change, but as a shift in moisture source, suggesting weaker westerlies and increased Mediterranean cyclones penetrating northward at this time.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut