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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 22 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 22 Jul 2019

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

Enhanced western Mediterranean rainfall during past interglacials driven by North Atlantic pressure changes

Yama Dixit1,2,3, Samuel Toucanne1, Juan M. Lora4, Christophe Fontanier5,6,7, Virgil Pasquier2, Lea Bonnin2, Gwenael Jouet1, and Aradhna Tripati1,2,4 Yama Dixit et al.
  • 1IFREMER, Laboratoire Géophysique et enregistrement Sédimentaire, CS10070, 29280 Plouzané CEDEX, France
  • 2Université de Brest – UMR 6538 CNRS/UBO, LGO, IUEM, 29280 Plouzané, France
  • 3Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • 4Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Center for Diverse Leadership in Science, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  • 5Université de Bordeaux, CNRS, Environnements et Paléo-environnements Océaniques et Continentaux, UMR 5805, F-33600 Pessac, France
  • 6FORAM, Research Group, F-49140 Villevêque, France
  • 7Université d'Angers, F49035 Angers, France

Abstract. There is increasing concern with anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions that ocean warming, in concert with summer and winter precipitation changes, will induce anoxia in multiple ocean basins. In particular the Mediterranean Sea is susceptible to severe hydrological changes. Mediterranean hydroclimate is controlled primarily by two phenomena – the latitudinal migration of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone and the North Atlantic climatic processes. While the former brings about the African summer monsoon rainfall the latter drives the wintertime storm tracks into the western Mediterranean. Although the hydrological changes in the eastern Mediterranean are quite well constrained, evidence of past changes in temperature and rainfall in the western Mediterranean across the past interglacials is relatively scarce. In this study, we use trace element and stable isotope composition of planktonic foraminifera from a sediment core off Corsica at the mouth of Golo river in the western Mediterranean to reconstruct variations in sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface salinities (SSS) during the Holocene and warm periods of the past two interglacials. Our data suggest that the warm periods of the last interglacials were characterised by high river discharge and lower SSS in the northern Tyrrhenian Sea, suggesting increased winter rainfall. We find evidence that enhanced winter rainfall during periods of precession minima and high seasonality across interglacials coincide with changes in the respective eccentricity maxima suggesting a causal link. Our model simulations for representative orbital configurations such as the mid-Holocene support increased south-westerly moisture transport into the western Mediterranean originating from the North Atlantic. We suggest that these hydrologic changes in the western and the northern Mediterranean borderlands were a contributing factor to basin-wide anoxia in the past. Our findings offer new insights into the cause and impact of winter rainfall changes in the Mediterranean during past warm periods.

Yama Dixit et al.
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Yama Dixit et al.
Yama Dixit et al.
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