Is global warming affecting cave temperatures? Experimental and model data from a paradigmatic case study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana
  • Jožef Stefan Institute
  • University of Zagreb
  • University of New South Wales


This research focuses on the mechanisms that transfer the variations in surface atmospheric temperature into caves to evaluate whether they record the warming trend of recent decades. As a study case, we use the data from a hall in Postojna Cave (Slovenia), which was monitored from 2009 to 2013. The low-frequency thermal variability of this cave chamber is dominated by the conduction of heat from the surface through the bedrock. We implemented a thermal conduction model that reproduces low-frequency thermal gradients similar to those measured in the cave. At the 37 m depth of this chamber, the model confirms that the bedrock is already recording the local expression of global warming with a delay of 20–25 years, and predicts a cave warming during the coming decades with a mean rate of 0.015 ± 0.004 C year−1. However, because of the transfer of surface atmosphere thermal variability depends on the duration of the oscillations, the thermal anomalies with periods 7–15 years in duration have delay times


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-581
Number of pages13
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2014


  • Cave, Global warming, Heat conduction, Postojna, Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas