Holocene flooding and climate change in the Mediterranean

Benito, G. and Macklin, M. G. and Zielhofer, C. and Jones, A. F. and Machado, M. J. (2015) Holocene flooding and climate change in the Mediterranean. Catena, 130 . pp. 13-33. ISSN 0341-8162

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Abstract

Mediterranean fluvial hydrology is characterised by decadal-to-multi-centennial length wet and dry episodes
with abrupt transitions related to changes in atmospheric circulation. Since the mid-1990s site-based flood
chronologies from slackwater deposits in bedrock rivers and regionally aggregated flood histories from alluvial
deposits have developed increasingly higher resolution chronological frameworks, although regional coverage
is still uneven. This paper analyses the spatial and temporal distribution of extreme Holocene hydrological events
recorded in fluvial stratigraphy in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), southern France, southern Italy,
Northern Africa (Morocco and Tunisia) and eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Crete, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel).
This study constitutes the most comprehensive investigation of Holocene river flooding ever undertaken in
the Mediterranean and is based on the analysis of 515 14C and 53 OSL dates. It reveals that flood periods in
different regions cluster into distinct time intervals, although region-wide flooding episodes can be identified
at 7400–7150, 4800–4600, 4100–3700, 3300–3200, 2850–2750, 2300–2100, 1700–1600, 1500–1400, 950–800,
ca. 300, 200–100 cal. BP. Periods with more frequent floods in the western Iberian region coincide with
transitions to cool and wetter conditions and persistent negative NAO mode. In Northern Africa increased flood
frequency coincides with periods of generally drier climate, while in the eastern Mediterranean there is a higher incidence of extreme flood events under wetter conditions. Our meta-data analysis identifies an out-of-phase pattern
of extreme events across the Mediterranean over multi-centennial timescales, which is particularly evident between
the western Iberian and eastern Mediterranean regions. This centennial-to-multi-centennial see-saw pattern in
flooding indicates that bipolar hydroclimatic conditions existed in the Mediterranean during the Holocene.

Keywords:palaeofloods, palaeohydrology, holocene, extreme events, climate change, mediterranean
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F840 Physical Geography
F Physical Sciences > F810 Environmental Geography
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
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ID Code:31604
Deposited On:20 Apr 2018 10:44

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