Mediterranean Island Landscapes pp 220-244

Part of the Landscape Series book series (LAEC, volume 9) | Cite as

Corsica

  • Florent Mouillot
  • Guilhan Paradis
  • Marie-Cécile Andrei-Ruiz
  • Angélique Quilichini

Corsica is the fourth largest Mediterranean Island; it is c.183 km north-south, and 83 km east-west and covers 8,682 km2. It is situated in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea (6°12–7°13 East, 41°9–43° North), at about 90 km west of continental Italy, 14 km north of Sardinia, and 170 km south-east of continental France, its metropolitan attachment. While being part of an initial geological structure which included southern France and Sardinia for millennia, it became isolated at the end of the Miocene era. Corsica is distinct insofar as it is the most northern, the wettest and the most mountainous Mediterranean Island with many peaks over 2,000 m. Most of the island is composed of granite, with a rough cliff and peak topography on its west coast. In its north-east, schists predominate giving a smoother topography (1,767 m maximum at San Pedrone). These two major units are subdivided by a corridor creating not only distinct geological/morphological but also cultural units. Still, today, the north-east part is differentiated from the south-east into two administrative substructures (called ‘départements’), namely Haute-Corse (Capital City: Bastia) and Corse-du-Sud (Capital City: Ajaccio) (Fig. 10.1). The former is more agricultural and community based, while the latter is less modified by human activity. A peculiar Quaternary deposition plain covers the east side of the island along the coast and, in the west side, the lower plains of the rivers such as Figarella, Liamone and Gravona are situated.The varied topography gives rise to several different microclimates and vegetation communities depending on altitude, from typical Mediterranean on the coast to alpine above 1,500 m. Summers are usually hot and dry and last from May till October. Winters can be cold and there is generally snow on the highest peaks until June, but by then the ambient temperature on the coast is in the mid-20s °C and the July–September average is 27 °C. The annual average is 12 °C. Annual precipitation varies from 600 mm on the coast to 2,000 mm on the highest peaks and occurs mainly in spring and autumn, with recurrent heavy storm events; up to 400 mm can fall within 24 h, leading to destructive flash-flooding events.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florent Mouillot
    • 1
  • Guilhan Paradis
    • 2
  • Marie-Cécile Andrei-Ruiz
    • 3
  • Angélique Quilichini
    • 4
  1. 1.IRD UR060, CEFE/CNRS (DREAM)France
  2. 2.Office de l'Environnement de la CorseFrance
  3. 3.Association Scientifique de Travaux, Études et Recherches sur l'EnvironnementFrance
  4. 4.Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité BiologiqueUniversité Paul SabatierFrance

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