Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Research article
14 Jun 2013
Research article |  | 14 Jun 2013

Contrasting patterns of climatic changes during the Holocene across the Italian Peninsula reconstructed from pollen data

O. Peyron, M. Magny, S. Goring, S. Joannin, J.-L. de Beaulieu, E. Brugiapaglia, L. Sadori, G. Garfi, K. Kouli, C. Ioakim, and N. Combourieu-Nebout

Abstract. Lake-level records from Italy suggest that patterns of precipitation in the central Mediterranean during the Holocene were divided between the north and south, but a scarcity of reliable palaeoclimatic records in the north and central-southern Mediterranean means new evidence is needed to validate this hypothesis. We provide robust quantitative estimates of Holocene climate in the Mediterranean region using four high-resolution pollen records from northern (Lakes Ledro and Accesa) and southern (Lakes Trifoglietti and Pergusa) Italy. Multiple methods are used to provide an improved assessment of the palaeoclimatic reconstruction uncertainty. The multi-method approach uses the pollen-based weighted averaging, weighted-average partial least-squares regression, modern analogue technique, and the non-metric multidimensional scaling/generalized additive model methods. We use independent lake-level data to validate the precipitation reconstructions.

Our results support a climatic partition between northern and southern Italy during the Holocene, confirming the hypothesis of opposing mid-Holocene summer precipitation regimes in the Mediterranean. The northern sites (Ledro, Accesa) are characterized by minima for summer precipitation and lake levels during the early to mid-Holocene, while the southern sites (Trifoglietti, Pergusa) are marked by maxima for precipitation and lake levels at the same time. Both pollen-inferred precipitation and lake levels indicate the opposite pattern during the late Holocene, a maximum in northern Italy and a minimum in southern Italy/Sicily. Summer temperatures show the same partitioning, with warm conditions in northern Italy and cool conditions in Sicily during the early/mid-Holocene, and a reversal during the late Holocene.

Comparison with marine cores from the Aegean Sea suggests that climate trends and gradients observed in Italy show strong similarities with those recognized from the Aegean Sea, and more generally speaking in the eastern Mediterranean.