Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Tellus B 2013, 65, 20602,


Copyright 2013 S. C. Fritz. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Holocene Epoch has abundant paleoclimatic archives at relatively high temporal and spatial resolution, which have helped to reveal the patterns of natural climate variation during the present interglacial period and the impacts of that variation on landscapes and biota. This article presents a personal review of some interesting insights that have emerged from analysis of Holocene paleoclimatic records from continental archives at orbital to multidecadal scales. These include how the increased density of sites in Asia, South America and Africa have revealed unforeseen spatial patterns of variation in the dynamics of the monsoon systems at orbital scales and a better characterization of the magnitude of multidecadal and centennial variation in various parts of the globe. Among interglacial periods, the Holocene is unique as the period in which more complex human civilizations and agriculture developed, and many recent studies have evolved our understanding of the nature of the human impact relative to natural dynamics prior to large-scale population expansion.