Despite the societal importance of extreme hydroclimate events, few palaeoenvironmental studies of Scandinavian lake sediments have investigated flood occurrences. Here we present a flood history based on lithological, geochemical and mineral magnetic records of a Holocene sediment sequence collected from contourite drift deposits in Lake Storsjön (63.12° N, 14.37° E). After the last deglaciation, the lake began to form around 9800 cal yr BP, but glacial activity persisted in the catchment for ~250 years. Element concentrations and mineral magnetic properties of the sediments indicate relatively stable sedimentation conditions during the Holocene. However, human impact in the form of expanding agriculture is evident from about 1100 cal yr BP, and intensified in the 20th century. Black layers containing iron sulphide appear irregularly throughout the sequence.
Elevated frequencies of black layer occurrence between 3600 and 1800 cal yr BP reflect vegetation changes in the catchment as well as large-scale climatic change. Soil erosion during snowmelt flood events increased with a tree line descent since the onset of the neoglacial period (~4000 cal yr BP). The peak in black layer occurrence coincides with a prominent solar minimum ~2600 cal yr BP, which may have accentuated the observed pattern due to the prevalence of a negative NAO index, a longer snow accumulation period and consequently stronger snowmelt flood.