1EPHE, Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux (EPOC), UMR5805, CNRS – Université Bordeaux 1, 33405 Talence, France
2LSCE, UMR1572, CNRS/CEA/UVSQ, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
3GEOGLOB, Sfax Faculty of Sciences, 3038 Sfax, Tunisia
4Chrono-Environnement, UMR6249, CNRS – Université de Franche-Comté, 25030 Besançon, France
5IDES, Earth Sciences Department, Université Paris XI, 91405 Orsay, France
6Géosystèmes, UMR8217, CNRS – Université Lille 1, 59655 Villeneuve d'Ascq, France
7EPOC, UMR5805, CNRS – Université Bordeaux 1, 33405 Talence, France
Abstract. Despite a large number of studies, the long-term and millennial to centennial-scale climatic variability in the Mediterranean region during the last deglaciation and the Holocene is still debated, in particular in the Southern Central Mediterranean. In this paper, we present a new marine pollen sequence (MD04-2797CQ) from the Siculo-Tunisian Strait documenting the regional vegetation and climatic changes in the Southern Central Mediterranean during the last deglaciation and the Holocene.
The MD04-2797CQ marine pollen sequence shows that semi-desert plants dominated the vegetal cover in the Southern Central Mediterranean between 18 and 12.3 kyr BP indicating prevailing dry conditions during the deglaciation, even during the Greenland Interstadial (GI)-1. Such arid conditions likely restricted the expansion of the trees and shrubs despite the GI-1 climatic amelioration. Across the transition Greenland Stadial (GS)-1 – Holocene, Asteraceae-Poaceae steppe became dominant till 10.1 kyr. This record underlines with no chronological ambiguity that even though temperatures increased, deficiency in moisture availability persisted into the Early Holocene.Temperate trees and shrubs with heaths as oak forest understorey or heath maquis expanded between 10.1 and 6.6 kyr, while Mediterranean plants only developed from 6.6 kyr onwards. These changes in vegetal cover show that the regional climate in Southern Central Mediterranean was wetter during Sapropel 1 (S1) and became drier during the Mid- to Late Holocene. Wetter conditions during S1 were likely due to increased winter precipitation while summers remained dry. We suggest, in agreement with published modelling experiments, that the increased melting of the Laurentide Ice Sheet between 10 to 6.8 kyr in conjunction with weak winter insolation played a major role in the development of winter precipitation maxima in the Mediterranean region in controlling the strength and position of the North Atlantic storm track.
Finally, our data provide evidences of centennial-scale vegetation and climatic changes in the Southern Central Mediterranean. During the wet Early Holocene, alkenones-derived cooling episodes are synchronous to herbaceous composition changes that indicate muted changes in precipitation. In contrast, enhanced aridity episodes, as detected by strong reduction in trees and shrubs, are recorded during the Mid- to Late Holocene. We show that the impact of the Holocene cooling events depend on the baseline climate states insolation and ice sheet volume, shaping the response of the mid-latitude atmospheric circulation.