Temperature variations during the Holocene
Paleogeographic reconstruction of the North Sea appr. 9000 years ago during the young Holocene and after the end of the last ice age.

The Holocene is the present geological epoch. It started around 11,000 years ago after the last ice age. We are now in a relatively warm climate in Earth's history.

This is the second epoch of the Quaternary and the seventh of the Cainozoic.

Holocene climatic optimum

The Holocene climatic optimum (HCO) was a warm period from about 9,000 to 5,000 years BP. The interesting thing about this is, despite recent global warming, we are still below this warm period (see diagram).

The warm period was followed by a gradual decline until about two millennia ago.

More details

The Holocene is also called the Recent epoch. It is the second stage in the Quaternary period.

The Holocene marks the end of the previous series of ice ages in the Pleistocene. About 11,700 years ago the temperatures rose quickly from the previous level.

During the early Holocene, there were many extinctions amongst larger mammals. This is because of human hunting and climate change.[1][2][3]

At this time the Bering bridge connecting Russia and Alaska melted. Also the land bridge between China and Japan melted (starting the Jomon period), as well as many land bridges between islands in Southeast Asia.

Holocene Media


  1. Martin P.S. and Klein R.G. eds 1984. Quaternary extinctions: a prehistoric revolution. Arizona, Tucson AZ.
  2. Roberts, Neil 1998. The Holocene: an environmental history. 2nd ed, Blackwell, Malden, MA. ISBN 0-631-18637-9
  3. Mackay A.W. Battarbee R.W. Birks H.J.B. et al. eds 2003. Global change in the Holocene. Arnold, London. ISBN 0-340-76223-3