National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Published in Quaternary Research 63 (2005)


Establishing natural climate variability becomes particularly important in large urban areas in anticipation of droughts. We present a well-dated bi-decadal record of vegetation, climate, land use, and fire frequency from a tidal marsh in the Hudson River Estuary. The classic Medieval Warm Period is evident through striking increases in charcoal and Pinus dominance from ~800–1300 A.D., paralleling paleorecords southward along the Atlantic seaboard. Higher inputs of inorganic sediment during this interval suggest increased watershed erosion during drought conditions. The presence of the Little Ice Age ensues with increases in Picea and Tsuga, coupled with increasing organic percentages due to cooler, moister conditions. European impact is manifested by a decline in arboreal pollen due to land clearance, increased weedy plant cover (i.e., Ambrosia, Plantago, and Rumex), and an increase in inorganic particles to the watershed.