Synchroneity between marine and terrestrial responses to millennial scale climatic variability during the last glacial period in the Mediterranean region
Land–sea climatic proxies have been obtained from the Last Glacial section of IMAGES core MD95-2043 (western Mediterranean Sea). Vegetation and alkenone derived SST curves indicate rapid (∼150 years) and synchronous terrestrial and marine climatic changes, paralleling the Dansgaard–Oeschger (D–O) climatic variability over Greenland. This frequency of climate change can be related to shifts between the two modes of operation of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Transfer functions applied to the pollen data indicate that there was an amplification of the climatic signal during Heinrich events (HEs) in comparison with other D–O stadials. The development and persistence of both Scandinavian and Atlantic Mobile Polar Highs over southwestern Europe may explain the extreme cooling (∼10 °C) and dryness (400 mm) during Heinrich events 5 and 4 in the Mediterranean region. Comparison of the results of core MD95-2043 with similar climatic data from IMAGES core MD95-2042, located off Portugal, indicates that thermal and precipitation gradients occurred between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic sides of Iberia within HEs. HEs 4 and 5 are associated with more humid conditions in the Atlantic (by 200 mm) than in the Mediterranean site, as is the case at the present time. This comparison also illustrates the different behaviour of these areas during the D–O stadials. In contrast with the Mediterranean site, the Atlantic site shows similar precipitation and temperature drops for all the D–O stadials, including those related to the HEs. Here we propose the operation of different Mobile Polar Highs (MPH) as the driving mechanism for this difference in behaviour between the Atlantic and Mediterranean sides of Iberia. HEs are related to a stronger influence of the Scandinavian MPH, forcing a severe aridification and cooling of the full Iberian Peninsula. The Atlantic MPH may have been dominant during the other stadials, which would preferentially affect Southwestern Iberia.
KeywordsClimatic Variability North Atlantic Oscillation Precipitation Gradient Climatic Proxy Image Core
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