Articles | Volume 12, issue 4
Clim. Past, 12, 849–869, 2016

Special issue: Human–land–sea interactions in the Mediterranean...

Clim. Past, 12, 849–869, 2016

Research article 07 Apr 2016

Research article | 07 Apr 2016

Sea surface temperature variability in the central-western Mediterranean Sea during the last 2700 years: a multi-proxy and multi-record approach

Mercè Cisneros1, Isabel Cacho1, Jaime Frigola1, Miquel Canals1, Pere Masqué2,3,4, Belen Martrat5, Marta Casado5, Joan O. Grimalt5, Leopoldo D. Pena1, Giulia Margaritelli6, and Fabrizio Lirer6 Mercè Cisneros et al.
  • 1GRC Geociències Marines, Departament de Dinàmica de la Terra i de l'Oceà, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals & Departament de Física, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain
  • 3School of Natural Sciences and Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia
  • 4Oceans Institute and School of Physics, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia
  • 5Institut de Diagnosi Ambiental i Estudis de l'Aigua (IDAEA), Consell Superior d'Investigacions Científiques (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
  • 6Istituto per l'Ambiente Marino Costiero (IAMC)–Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Calata Porta di Massa, Interno Porto di Napoli, 80133, Naples, Italy

Abstract. This study presents the reconstructed evolution of sea surface conditions in the central-western Mediterranean Sea during the late Holocene (2700 years) from a set of multi-proxy records as measured on five short sediment cores from two sites north of Minorca (cores MINMC06 and HER-MC-MR3). Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from alkenones and Globigerina bulloides Mg / Ca ratios are combined with δ18O measurements in order to reconstruct changes in the regional evaporation–precipitation (E–P) balance. We also revisit the G. bulloides Mg / Ca–SST calibration and re-adjusted it based on a set of core-top measurements from the western Mediterranean Sea. Modern regional oceanographic data indicate that Globigerina bulloides Mg / Ca is mainly controlled by seasonal spring SST conditions, related to the April–May primary productivity bloom in the region. In contrast, the alkenone–SST signal represents an integration of the annual signal.

The construction of a robust chronological framework in the region allows for the synchronization of the different core sites and the construction of “stacked” proxy records in order to identify the most significant climatic variability patterns. The warmest sustained period occurred during the Roman Period (RP), which was immediately followed by a general cooling trend interrupted by several centennial-scale oscillations. We propose that this general cooling trend could be controlled by changes in the annual mean insolation. Even though some particularly warm SST intervals took place during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), the Little Ice Age (LIA) was markedly unstable, with some very cold SST events mostly during its second half. Finally, proxy records for the last centuries suggest that relatively low E–P ratios and cold SSTs dominated during negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) phases, although SSTs seem to present a positive connection with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index.

Short summary
We present a high-resolution multi-proxy study about the evolution of sea surface conditions along the last 2700 yr in the north-western Mediterranean Sea based on five sediment records from two different sites north of Minorca. The novelty of the results and the followed approach, constructing stack records from the studied proxies to preserve the most robust patterns, provides a special value to the study. This complex period appears to have significant regional changes in the climatic signal.