26 Oct 2021

26 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

European pollen-based REVEALS land-cover reconstructions for the Holocene: methodology, mapping and potentials

Esther Githumbi1,2, Ralph Fyfe3, Marie-Jose Gaillard2, Anna-Kari Trondman2,4, Florence Mazier5, Anne-Birgitte Nielsen6, Anneli Poska1,7, Shinya Sugita8, Martin Theuerkauf9, Jessie Woodbridge3, Julien Azuara10, Angelica Feurdean11,12, Roxana Grindean12, Vincent Lebreton10, Laurent Marquer13, Nathalie Nebout-Combourieu10, Migle Stancikaite14, Ioan Tanţău12, Spassimir Tonkov15, Lyudmila Shumilovskikh16, and the LandClimII Data Contributors Esther Githumbi et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, University of Lund, 22362 Lund, Sweden
  • 2Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Linnaeus University, 39182 Kalmar, Sweden
  • 3School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, PL4 8AA Plymouth, United Kingdom
  • 4Division of Education Affairs, Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU), 23456 Alnarp, Sweden
  • 5Environmental Geography Laboratory, GEODE UMR 5602 CNRS, Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès, 31058 Toulouse, France
  • 6Department of Geology, Lund University, 22100 Lund, Sweden
  • 7Department of Geology, Tallinn University of Technology, 19086 Tallinn, Estonia
  • 8Institute of Ecology, Tallinn University of Technology, 10120 Tallinn, Estonia
  • 9Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, EMAU Greifswald, 1748 Greiswald, Germany
  • 10Département Homme et Environnement, UMR 7194 Histoire Naturelle de l'Homme Préhistorique, 75013 Paris, France
  • 11Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 12Department of Geology, Faculty of Biology and Geology, Babeş-Bolyai University, 400084 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • 13Department of Botany, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 14Institute of Geology and Geography, Vilnius University, Vilnius, LT-03101 Vilnius, Lithuania
  • 15Department of Botany, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 16Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, Georg-August-University, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
  • A full list of authors appears at the end of the paper.

Abstract. Quantitative reconstructions of past land-cover are necessary for research into the processes involved in climate-human-land interactions. We present the first temporally continuous pollen-based land-cover reconstruction for Europe over the Holocene (last 11,700 cal yr BP). We describe how vegetation cover has been quantified from pollen records at a 1° × 1° spatial scale using the ‘Regional Estimates of VEgetation Abundance from Large Sites’ (REVEALS) model. REVEALS has been applied to 1128 pollen records across Europe and part of the Eastern Mediterranean-Black Sea-Caspian-Corridor (30°–75° N, 25° W–50° E) to reconstruct the cover of 31 plant taxa assigned to 12 plant functional types (PFTs) and three land-cover types (LCTs). A new synthesis of relative pollen productivities (RPPs) available for European plant taxa was performed for this reconstruction. It includes > 1 RPP values for 39 taxa, and single values for 15 taxa (total of 54 taxa). As an illustration, we present maps of the results for five taxa (Calluna vulgaris, Cerealia-t, Picea abies, Quercus deciduous and Quercus evergreen) and three LCTs (open land (OL), evergreen trees (ET) and summer-green trees (ST)) for 8 selected time windows. We discuss the reliability of the REVEALS reconstructions and issues related to the interpretation of the results in terms of landscape openness and human-induced vegetation change. We then describe the current use of this reconstruction and its future potential utility and development. The REVEALS data presented here can be downloaded from

Esther Githumbi et al.

Status: open (until 21 Dec 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2021-269', Qinghai Xu, 15 Nov 2021 reply
    • CC1: 'Reply on RC1', Esther Githumbi, 23 Nov 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2021-269', Mary Edwards, 29 Nov 2021 reply
    • CC2: 'Reply on RC2', Esther Githumbi, 01 Dec 2021 reply

Esther Githumbi et al.

Data sets

A full Holocene record of transient gridded vegetation cover in Europe. Fyfe, Ralph M; Githumbi, Esther; Trondman, Anna-Kari; Mazier, Florence; Nielsen, Anne Birgitte; Poska, Anneli; Sugita, Shinya; Woodbridge, Jessie; LandClimII contributors; Gaillard, Marie-José

Esther Githumbi et al.


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Short summary
Reconstruction of past land cover is necessary for the study of past climate – land cover interactions and the evaluation of climate models, land use scenarios. We used available pollen data from across Europe covering the last 11700 years in the REVEALS model to calculate percentage cover and associated standard errors for 31 taxa, 12 plant functional types and 3 land-cover types. REVEALS results are reliant on the quality of the input datasets.