Present climate of lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees): paleoclimatic relevance and insights on future warming




climatology, paleoclimatology, temperature, precipitation, climographs, elevational gradients, global warming, Lake Montcortès, central Pyrenees


The varved sediments of the Pyrenean Lake Montcortès (Pallars Sobirà, Lleida) embody a unique continuous high-resolution (annual) paleoarchive of the last 3000 years for the circum-Mediterranean region. A variety of paleoclimatic and paleoecological records have been retrieved from these uncommon sediments that have turned the lake into a regional reference. Present-day geographical, geological, ecological and limnological features of the lake and its surroundings are reasonably well known but the lack of a local weather station has prevented characterization of current climate, which is important to develop modern-analog studies for paleoclimatic reconstruction and to forecast the potential impacts of future global warming. Here, the local climate of the Montcortès area for the period 1955-2020 is characterized using a network of nearby stations situated along an elevational transect in the same river basin of the lake. The finding of statistically significant elevational gradients for average temperature and precipitation (-0.59 °C and 82 mm per 100 m elevation, respectively) has enabled to estimate these parameters and their seasonal regime for the lake site. The estimated average annual temperature is 9.7±0.8 °C and the estimated total annual precipitation is 1031±34 mm, in average. A representative climograph has been shaped with these data that can serve as a synthetic descriptive and comparative climatic tool. The same analysis has provided climatic data for modern-analog studies useful to improve the interpretation of sedimentary records in climatic and ecological terms. In addition, the seasonal slope shifting of the climatic elevational gradients has been useful to gain insights about possible future climatic trends under a warming scenario


Download data is not yet available.


Alexandersson, H., Moberg A. 1997. Homogenisation of Swedish temperature data, Part I: Homogeneity test for linear trends. International Journal of Climatology 17, 25– 34.<25::AID-JOC103>3.0.CO;2-J

Birks, H.J.B., Lotter, A.F., Juggins, S., Smol, J.P. 2012. Tracking Environmental Changes Using Lake Sediments. Vol. 5, Data Handling and Numerical Techniques. Springer, Dordrecht.

Bradley, R.S. 2015. Paleoclimatology. Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Breusch, T.S., Pagan, A.R. 1979. A simple test for heteroscedasticity and random coefficient variation. Econometrica 47, 1287-1294.

Camps, J., Gonzalvo, I., Güell, J., López, P., Tejero, A., Toldrà, X., Vallespinós, F., Vicens, M. 1976. El lago de Montcortès, descripción de un ciclo anual. Oecologia Aquatica 2, 99-110

Cao, M., Rivas-Ruiz, P., Trapote, M.C., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Rull, V., Rosell-Melé, A. 2020. Seasonal effects of water temperature and dissolved oxygen on the isoGDGT proxy (TEX86) in a Mediterranean oligotrophic lake. Chemical Geology 551, 119759.

Carreras, J., Vigo, J., Ferré, A. 2005-2006. Manual dels hàbitats de Catalunya, vols I-VIII. Departament de Medi Ambient i Habitatge, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona.

Corella, J.P., Moreno, A., Morellón, M., Rull, V., Giralt, S., Rico, M.T., Pérez-Sanz, A., Valero-Garcés, B.L. 2011. Climate and human impact on a meromictic lake during the last 6,000 years (Montcortès Lake, Central Pyrenees, Spain). Journal of Paleolimnology 46, 351-367.

Corella, J.P., Brauer, A., Mangili, C., Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Morellón, M., Valero-Garcés, B.L. 2012. The 1.5-ka varved record of Lake Montcortès (southern Pyrenees, NE Spain). Quaternary Research 78, 323-332.

Corella, J.P., Benito, G., Rodriguez-Lloveras, X., Brauer, A., Valero-Garcés, B.L. 2014. Annually-resolved lake record of extreme hydro-meteorological events since AD 1347 in NE Iberian Peninsula. Quanternary Science Reviews 93, 77-90.

Corella, J.P., Valero-Garcés, B. L., Vicente-Serrano, S.M., Brauer, A., Benito, G. 2016. Three millennia of heavy rainfalls in Western Mediterranean: frequency, seasonality and atmopsheric drivers. Scientific Reports 6, 38206.

Corella, J.P., Benito, G., Wilhelm, B., Montoya, E., Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Valero-Garcés, B.L. 2019. A millennium-long perspective of flood-related seasonal sediment yield in Mediterranean watersheds. Global and Planetary Change 177, 127-140.

Domonkos P., Guijarro, J.A, Venema, V., Brunet, M., Sigró, J. 2021. Efficiency of time series homogenization: method comparison with 12 monthly temperature test dataset. Journal of Climate 34, 2877–2891.

Durbin, J., Watson, G.S. 1950. Testing for serial correlation in least squares regression, I. Biometrika 37, 409-428.

Durbin, J., Watson, G.S. 1951. Testing for serial correlation in least squares regression, II. Biometrika 38, 159-179.

Guijarro, J.A. 2016. Automatización de la homogeneización de series climáticas: nuevas funciones del paquete CLIMATOL 3.0. In: J. A. Olcina, M. Rico, E. Moltó (Eds.), Clima, Sociedad, Riesgos y Ordenación del Territorio. Publicaciones de la Asociación Española de Climatología, Serie A, Alicante, pp. 153-160.

Gutièrrez, F., Linares, R., Roquè, C., Zarroca, M., Rosell, J., Galve, J.P., Carbonel, D. 2012. Investigating gravitational grabens related to lateral spreading and evaporite dissolution subsidence by means of detailed mapping, trenching, and electrical resistivity tomography (Spanish Pyrenees). Lithosphere 4, 331-353.

Hammer, Ø., Harper, D.A.T., Ryan, P.D. 2001. PAST: Paleontological statistics software package for education and data analyisis. Palaeontologia Electronica 4, 4.

Hyndman, R.J., Koehler, A.B. 2006. Another look at measures of forecast accuracy. International Journal of Forecasting 22, 679-688.

Jackson, S.T., Williams, J.W. 2004. Modern analogs in Quaternary paleoecology: here today, gone yesterday, gone tomorrow? Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences 32, 495-537.

Mercadé, A., Vigo, J., Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Garcés, S., Lara, A., Cañellas-Boltà, N. 2013. Vegetation and landscape around Lake Montcortès (Catalan pre-Pyrenees) as a tool for palaeoecological studies of Lake sediments. Collectanea Botanica 32, 87-101.

Modamio, X., Pérez, V., Samarra, F., 1988. Limnología del lago de Montcortès (ciclo 1978-79) (Pallars Jussà, Lleida). Oecologia Aquatica 9, 9-17.

Montoya, E., Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Corella, J.P., Giralt, S., Valero-Garcés, B. 2018. Grazing activities in the southern central Pyrenees during the last millennium as deduced from the non-pollen palynomorphs (NPP) record of Lake Montcortès. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 254, 8-19.

Navarro-Serrano, F., López-Moreno, J.I., Azorin-Molina, C., Alonso-González, E., Tomás-Bruguera, M., Sanmiguel-Vallelado, A., Revuelto, J., Vicente-Serrano, S.M. 2018. Estimation of near-surface air temperatures lapse rates over continental Spain and its mountain areas. International Journal of Climatology 38, 3233-3249.

Overpeck, J.T., Webb, T., Prentice, I.C. 1985. Quatitative interpretation of fossil pollen spectra: dissimilarity coefficients and the method of modern analogs. Quaternary Research 23, 87-108.

Palazzi, E., Mortarini, E., Terzago, S., von Hardenberg, J. 2019. Elevation-dependent warming in global climate model simulations at high spatial resolution. Climate Dynamics 52, 2685-2702.

Pepin, N., Bradley, R.S., Diaz, H.F., Baraer, M., Caceres, E.B., Forsythe, N., Fowler, F., Greenwood, G., Hashmi, M.Z., Liu, X.D., Miller, J.R., Ning, L., Ohmura, A., Palazzi, E., Rangwala, I., Schöner, W., Severshiy, I., Shahgedanova, M., Wang, M.B., Williamson, S.N., Yang, D.Q. 2015. Elevation-dependent warming in mountain regions of the world. Nature Climate Change 5, 524-430.

Pepin, N.C., Arnone, E., Gobiet, A., Haslinger, K., Kotlarski, S., Notarnicola, C., Palazzi, E., Seibert, P., Serafin, S., Schöner, W., Terzago, S., Thornton, J.M., Vuille, M., Adler, C. 2022. Climate changes and their elevational patterns in the Mountains of the world. Reviews of Geophysics 60, e2020RG000730.

Pérez-Zanón, N., Sigró, J., Ashcroft, L. 2017. Temperature and precipitation regional climate series over the central Pyrenees during 1910–2013. International Journal of Climatology 37, 1922-1937.

Rolland, C. 2003. Spatial and seasonal variations of air temperature lapse rates in Alpine regions. Journal of Climate 16, 1032-1046.

Rull, V. 2014. Time continuum and true long-term ecology: from theory to practice. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2, 75.

Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T. 2014. Preliminary report on a mid-19th century Cannabis pollen peak in NE Spain: historical context and potential chronological significance. The Holocene 24, 1378-1383.

Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T. 2015. Crops and weeds fron the Estany de Montcortès catchment, central Pyrenees, during the last millennium: a comparison of palynological and historical records. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 24, 699-710.

Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T. 2021. Conifer forest dynamics in the Iberian Pyrenees during the Middle Ages. Forests 12, 1685.

Rull, V., González-Sampériz, P., Corella, J.P., Morellón, M., Giralt, S. 2011. Vegetation changes in the southern Pyrenean flank during the last millennium in relation to climate and human activities: the Montocortès lacustrine record. Journal of Paleolimnology 46, 387-404.

Rull, V., Trapote, M.C., Safont, E., Cañellas-Boltà, N., Pérez-Zanón, N., Sigró, J., Buchaca, T., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T. 2017. Seasonal patterns of pollen sedimentation in Lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees) and potential applications to high-resolution paleoecology: a 2-year pilot study. Journal of Paleolimnology 57, 95-108.

Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Corella, J.P., Valero-Garcés, B., 2021a. Bronze Age to Medieval vegetation dynamics and landscape anthropization in the southern-central Pyrenees. Palaeogeography, Palaeocolimatology, Palaeoecology 571, 110392.

Rull, V., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Corella, J.P., Trapote, M.C., Montoya, E., Valero-Garcés, B., 2021b. A unique Pyrenean record provides a detailed reconstruction of Mediterranean vegetation and land-use dynamics over the last three millennia. Quaternary Science Reviews 268, 107128.

Sigró, J., Pérez-Luque, A.J., Pérez-Martínez, C., Vegas-Vilarrubia, T., Esteban-Parra, M. J. 2022. Trends in temperature and precipitation in high mountain areas in Spain from the Spanish Hig Mountain Climate Database, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria.

Scussolini, P., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Rull, V., Corella, J.P., Valero-Garcés, B., Gomà, J. 2011. Middle and late Holocene climate change and human impact inferred from diatoms, algae and aquatic macrophyte pollen in sediments from Lake Montcortès (NE Iberian Peninsula). Journal of Paleolimnology 46, 369-385.

Shapiro, S.S., Wilk, M.B. 1965. An analysis of variance test for normality (complete samples). Biometrics 52, 591-611.

Stigler, S.M., 1981. Gauss and the invention of least squares. Annals of Statistics 9, 465-474.

Trapote, M.C., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., López, P., Puche, E., Gomà, J., Buchaca, T., Cañellas-Boltà, N., Safont, E., Corella, J.P., Rull, V. 2018a. Modern sedimentary analogues and integrated monitoring to understand varve formation in the Mediterranean Lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees, Spain). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 496, 292-304.

Trapote, M.C., Rull, V., Giralt, S., Corella, J.P., Montoya, E., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T. 2018b. High-resolution (sub-decadal) pollen analysis of varved sediments from Lake Montcortès (southern Pyrenean flank): a fine-tuned record of landscape dynamics and human impact during the last 500 years. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 259, 207-222.

Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Corella, J.P., Pérez-Zanón, N., Buchaca, T., Trapote, M.C., López, P., Sigró, J., Rull, V. 2018. Historical shifts in oxygenation regime as recorded in the laminated sediments of lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees) support hypoxia as a continental-scale phenomenon. Science of the Total Envrionment 612, 1577-1592.

Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Rull, V., Trapote, M.C., Cao, M., Rosell-Melé, A., Buchaca, T., Gomà, J., López, P., Sigró, J., Safont, E., Cañellas, N., Garcés.Pastor, S., Giralt, S., Corella, J.P., Pérez-Zanón, N. 2020. Modern analogue approach applied to high-resolution varved sediments – a synthesis for Lake Montocrtès (Central Pyrenees). Quaternary 3, 1.

Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T., Corella, J.P., Sigró, J., Rull, V., Dorado-Liñán, I., Valero-Garcés, B., Gutiérrez-Merino, E. 2022. Regional precipitation trends since 1500 CE reconstructed from calcite sublayers of a varved Mediterranean lake record (Central Pyrenees). Science of the Total Environment 826, 153773.

Vicente-Serrano, S.M., Lopez-Moreno, J.I., Beguería, S., Lorenzo-Lacruz, J., Sanchez-Lorenzo, A., García-Ruiz, J.M., Azorin-Molina, C., Morán-Tejeda, E., Revuelto, J., Trigo, R., Coelho, F., Espejo, F. 2014. Evidence of increasing drought severity caused by temperature rise in southern Europe. Environmental Research Letters 9, 044001.

WMO. 2017. WMO Guidelines on the Calculation of Climate Normals. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva.

You, Q., Chen, D., Wu, F., Pepin, N., Cai, Z., Ahrens, B., Jiang, Z., Wu, Z., Kang, S., AghaKouchak, A. 2020. Elevation dependent warming over the Tibetan Plateau: patterns, mechanisms and perspectives. Earth-Science Reviews 210, 103349.




How to Cite

Rull V, Sigró J, Vegas-Vilarrúbia T. Present climate of lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees): paleoclimatic relevance and insights on future warming. CIG [Internet]. 2022 Jul. 8 [cited 2024 May 29];49(1):23-38. Available from: