Uniqueness of Planktonic Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea: The Response to Orbital- and Suborbital-Climatic Forcing over the Last 130,000 Years

Enrico Di Stefano, Alessandro Incarbona, Serena Ferraro, Rodolfo Sprovieri

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The Mediterranean Sea is an ideal location to test the response of organisms to hydrological transformations driven by climate change. Here we review studies carried out on planktonic foraminifera and coccolithophores during the late Quaternary and attempt the comparison of data scattered in time and space. We highlight the prompt response of surface water ecosystems to both orbital- and suborbital-climatic variations.A markedly different spatial response was observed in calcareous plankton assemblages, possibly due to the influence of the North Atlantic climatic system in the western, central and northern areas and of the monsoon system in the easternmost and southern sites. Orbital-induced climatic dynamics led to productive surface waters in the northern, western and central Mediterranean Sea during the last glacial and to distinct deep chlorophyll maximum layers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea coinciding with bottom anoxia episodes. High-frequency planktonic modifications are well documented in the Sicily Channel and Alboran Sea and highlight the occurrence of different steps within a single stadial (cold phase)/interstadial (warm phase) oscillation.The review of planktonic organisms in the marine sedimentary archive casts light on the uniqueness of the Mediterranean Sea, especially in terms of climatic/oceanographic/biological interaction and influence of different climatic systems on distinct areas. Further research is needed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea where results are obscured by low-resolution sedimentary records and by a strong focus on sapropel deposition dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-578
Number of pages12
JournalOpen Geosciences
Volume8
Publication statusPublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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