Holocene vegetation and climate changes in the central Mediterranean inferred from a high-resolution marine pollen record (Adriatic Sea)

The high-resolution multiproxy study of the Adriatic marine core MD 90-917 provides new insights to reconstruct vegetation and regional climate changes over the southcentral Mediterranean during the Younger Dryas (YD) and Holocene. Pollen records show the rapid forest colonization of the Italian and Balkan borderlands and the gradual installation of the Mediterranean association during the Holocene. Quantitative estimates based on pollen data provide Holocene precipitations and temperatures in the Adriatic Sea using a multi-method approach. Clay mineral ratios from the same core reflect the relative contributions of riverine (illite and smectite) and eolian (kaolinite) contributions to the site, and thus act as an additional proxy with which to evaluate precipitation changes in the Holocene. Vegetation climate reconstructions show the response to the Preboreal oscillation (PBO), most likely driven by changes in temperature and seasonal precipitation, which is linked to increasing river inputs from Adriatic rivers recorded by increase in clay mineral contribution to marine sediments. Pollen-inferred temperature declines during the early-mid Holocene, then increases during the mid-late Holocene, similar to southwestern Mediterranean climatic patterns during the Holocene. Several short vegetation and climatic events appear in the record, indicating the sensitivity of vegetation in the region to millennial-scale variability. Reconstructed summer precipitation shows a regional maximum (170-200 mm) between 8000 and 7000 similar to the general pattern across southern Europe. Two important shifts in vegetation occur at 7700 cal yr BP (calendar years before present) and between 7500 and 7000 cal yr BP and are correlated with increased river inputs around the Adriatic Basin respectively from the northern (7700 event) and from the central Adriatic borderlands (7500-7000 event). During the mid-Holocene, the wet summers lead to permanent moisture all year resulting in a homogeneous seasonal precipitation regime. After 6000 cal yr BP, summer precipitation decreases towards present-day values while winter precipitation rises regularly showing the setting up of Mediterranean climate conditions. Multiproxy evidence from core MD 90-917 provides a deeper understanding of the role of precipitation and particularly the seasonality of precipitation in mediating vegetation change in the central Mediterranean during the Holocene.

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Combourieu-Nebout N., Peyron O., Bout-Roumazeilles V., Goring S., Dormoy I., Joannin S., Sadori L., Siani G., Magny M. (2013). Holocene vegetation and climate changes in the central Mediterranean inferred from a high-resolution marine pollen record (Adriatic Sea). Climate Of The Past. 9 (5). 2023-2042. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-9-2023-2013, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00181/29238/

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