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Orbital- and sub-orbital-scale climate impacts on vegetation of the western Mediterranean basin over the last 48,000 yr

  • William J. Fletcher (a1) and Maria Fernanda Sánchez Goñi (a1)

High-resolution pollen analysis of Alborán Sea core MD95-2043 provides a 48-ka continuous vegetation record that can be directly correlated with sea surface and deep-water changes. The reliability of this record is supported by comparison with that of Padul (Sierra Nevada, Spain). Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 was characterised by fluctuations in Quercus forest cover in response to Dansgaard-Oeschger climate variability. MIS 2 was characterised by the dominance of semi-desert vegetation. Despite overall dry and cold conditions during MIS 2, Heinrich events (HEs) 2 and 1 were distinguished from the last glacial maximum by more intensely arid conditions. Taxon-specific vegetation responses to a tripartite climatic structure within the HEs are observed. In MIS 1, the Bölling-Allerød was marked by rapid afforestation, while a re-expansion of semi-desert environments occurred during the Younger Dryas. The maximum development of mixed Quercus forest occurred between 11.7 and 5.4 cal ka BP, with forest decline since 5.4 cal ka BP. On orbital timescales, a long-term expansion of semi-desert vegetation from MIS 3 into MIS 2 reflects global ice-volume trends, while Holocene arboreal decline reflects summer insolation decrease. The influence of precession on the amplitude of forest development and vegetation composition is also detected.

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*Corresponding author. Fax: +33 5 56 84 08 48. E-mail address: (W.J. Fletcher).
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