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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Oct 2018

Research article | 10 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

The 4.2 ka BP event in the vegetation record of the central Mediterranean

Federico Di Rita and Donatella Magri Federico Di Rita and Donatella Magri
  • Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, 00185, Italy

Abstract. In this paper, the variation in forest cover in the central Mediterranean region, reflected by percentage changes of the arboreal pollen record, has been examined in relation to the 4.2kaBP event. A number of 36 well-dated and detailed pollen records from latitudes between 45° and 36°N were selected and their vegetation dynamics between 5 and 3ka examined in relation to the physiographic and climatic features of the study area and to the influence of human activity on past vegetation, as suggested by anthropogenic pollen indicators. We have found that the sites located between 43° and 45°N do not show any significant vegetation change in correspondence with the 4.2ka event. Several sites located in the Italian Peninsula between 39°–43°N show a marked opening of the forest, suggesting that a lowering of rainfall occurred during the 4.2kaBP event, sufficiently strong to determine a forest decline. Between 36°–39°N, a forest decline is always visible around 4.2kaBP, and in some cases it is dramatic. This indicates that this region was severely affected by a climate change towards arid conditions that lasted a few hundreds of years and was followed by a recovery of forest vegetation in the middle Bronze age. Human activity, especially intense in southern Italy, may have been favored by this natural opening of vegetation. In Sardinia and Corsica, no clear change in vegetation is observed at the same time. We suggest that during the 4.2kaBP event southern Italy and Tunisia were under the prevalent influence of a north African climate system, characterized by a persistent high-pressure cell.

Federico Di Rita and Donatella Magri
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Federico Di Rita and Donatella Magri
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