Short INTIMATE history

INTIMATE was launched at the XIVth INQUA Congress held in Berlin in 1995, and its primary objective was the synthesis of records of the Last Termination from the North Atlantic region. The project  was established to encourage collaboration between members of the ice-core, marine and terrestrial ‘communities’ in order to synthesise the large number of high-resolution stratigraphical records of the Last Termination now available from the North Atlantic region. Subsidiary aims included:

In the last 4 years an event stratigraphy for the Last Termination in the North Atlantic region based on the Greenland Ice Core record has been developed (Björck et al. 1998, Walker et al. 1999). Furthermore, the by the INTIMATE group developed protocol for stratigraphic terminology and classification forms the basis of a QSR special Issue 'Records of the Last Termination around the North Atlantic' edited by M.J.C. Walker, S. Björck and J.J. Lowe (QSR 20(11) May 2001).

The activities of INTIMATE during the 1995-1999 inter-congress period comprised:

  1. an inaugural workshop held at the XIVth INQUA Congress in Berlin, 1995
  2. an international workshop held near Lund, Sweden in 1997, convened by B. Wohlfarth (Lund), S. Björck (Copenhagen), S.J. Johnsen (Copenhagen) and K-L. Knudsen (Aarhus)
  3. an international workshop held at Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada in 1998, convened by L.C. Cwynar (Fredericton)
  4. one of the main symposia and an associated poster session at the XVth INQUA Congress held in Durban, South Africa in 1999
  5. an INTIMATE business meeting also held at the Durban INQUA Congress, where a future programme, with revised objectives for INTIMATE, was agreed.


Fredericton (1998)                 Durban (1999): John Lowe, Mike Walker and Wim Hoek

XVth INQUA Congress 1999, Durban SA 

At the XVth INQUA Congress held in Durban in 1999 it was concluded that the INTIMATE programme would continue and enlarge the focus to the whole Atlantic Region, including the Mediterranean.

In line with recommendations of the INQUA Palaeoclimate Commission and with INTIMATE’s stated remit for the 1999-2003 inter-congress period, the following new developments have been actioned:

  1. Wim Hoek has initiated the INTIMATE web page which is generating increasing numbers of INTIMATE members from a growing number of countries.
  2. Chris Turney and Valerie Hall (Queen’s University, Belfast) maintain links between INTIMATE and the INQUA Tephrochronology Commission
  3. Fabienne Marret (School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor, Wales) has agreed to act as regional co-ordinator for African scientists who wish to participate in the activities of INTIMATE.
  4. Daniel Ariztegui (University of Geneva, Switzerland) has agreed to act as regional co-ordinator for the South American Seaboard.
  5. A link has been established between INTIMATE and the co-ordinator of the Mediterranean ELDP group, B.L. Valero-Garces (Spain) who has agreed to encourage close co-operation between INTIMATE and the relevant Mediterranean scientific community.
  6. Rainer Zahn (Cardiff, Wales) has agreed to help establish links with interested palaeoceanographers who hold records from Mediterranean Sea sediment sequences which span the Last Termination.
  7. INTIMATE held its 4th International Workshop in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, from 21-28 August, 2000. The meeting was attended by 31 INTIMATE  project members from 9 European countries.
  8. Formal links have been established with the  IGBP’s PAGES programme. John Lowe has been appointed co-coordinator (with Jef Vandenberghe, Amsterdam) for the appropriate PAGES ‘time-stream’, and represented INTIMATE’s international activities at the PAGES meeting in London, U.K. January 2001.
  9. The INTIMATE Special Issue based on the papers presented during INQUA Durban 1999 appeared in Quaternary Science Reviews 20(11) in May 2001. 
  10. Wim Hoek represented INTIMATE during the PAGES-PEPIII Conference 'Past Climate Variability Through Europe and Africa' in Aix en Provence, August 2001. Special emphasis was on encouraging participation by African and Mediteranean scientists to the INTIMATE project.
  11. INTIMATE held its 5th International Workshop in Tromsø, Norway, from 22-28 June 2002. The meeting was attended by 36 INTIMATE project members from 12 countries.
  12. John Lowe represented INTIMATE at the Second National Conference (Italy) of SINAPSI (Seasonal, International and decAdal variability of the atmosPhere, oceanS and related marIne ecosystems) held at Ancona, Italy, 13-15 May 2002.
  13. Wim Hoek represented INTIMATE during the Union International des Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques, Commission XXXII for the Final Palaeolithic of the Great European Plain workshop on Landscape and Humans at the Dryas III – Preboreal Transition on the European Plain held in Greifswald, Germany, 12-14 September 2002.
  14. Berit Eriksen (University of Aarhus, Denmark) has agreed to act as co-ordinator to involve archaeologists with interest in the work of INTIMATE. She will establish a formal link the INQUA commission on Human Evolution and Paleoecology.
  15. The INTIMATE Executive group is considering ways of expanding the remit of INTIMATE to enable data world-wide to be synthesised, and to encourage participation in INTIMATE’s activities by scientists from many other countries. At the same time, however, there is a concern over the need to maintain the close-knit collaboration that has characterised INTIMATE’s activities thus far. The presently favoured proposal is to encourage the development of regional groups that can co-ordinate work in parallel with the INTIMATE-North Atlantic group. The proposal will be aired at the XVIth INQUA Congress, and form part of any application for continued support for INTIMATE from INQUA post-2003.


  INTIMATE members on the Greenland Ice (photo by Jan Heinemeier)



Developments since the last INQUA Congress, Reno 2003

1.                  During the XVIth INQUA Congress held in Reno, Nevada in July, 2003, John Lowe was elected President of the INQUA Palaeoclimate Commission, with immediate effect. He has therefore decided to step down as co-ordinator of the INTIMATE project from the end of December, 2003. His final task as INTIMATE co-ordinator will be the construction and submission of the 2003 INTIMATE annual report to INQUA. He is willing to continue to serve as a member of the INTIMATE Steering Committee during the next inter-Congress period, if acceptable to the Steering Committee.

2.                  The 6th INTIMATE International Workshop attended by 33 scientists from 14 countries was held during the Reno INQUA Congress. During that meeting it was proposed that Wim Hoek, presently the Secretary of the INTIMATE project, should take over from John Lowe as Co-ordinator of INTIMATE with effect from 1st January, 2004.

3.                  Zicheng Yu of Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has volunteered to succeed Wim Hoek as Secretary of the INTIMATE project from 1st January, 2004. His involvement in this capacity promises to increase involvement in INTIMATE by North American scientists. He has been asked to consider the planning of a future International Workshop of INTIMATE, to be based in the NE USA during 2005 or 2006.

4.                  The Australasian INTIMATE project has been launched during INQUA Reno. Dr Rewi Newnham ( is acting as the link person to the main INTIMATE  project, Dr Jamie Shulmeister ( is the NZ local co-ordinator and Dr Simon Haberle ( is doing the same for Australia. The regional project is intended to run until at least 2007 when results will be presented at the next INQUA congress in Cairns (and a journal issue and/or summary paper/s will be derived).