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Science. 2008 Sep 5;321(5894):1338-40. doi: 10.1126/science.1157638. Epub 2008 Jul 31.

Regional synthesis of Mediterranean atmospheric circulation during the Last Glacial Maximum.

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  • 1Institute for Geosciences, University of Tuebingen, Sigwartstrasse 10, D-72076 Tuebingen, Germany.


Atmospheric circulation leaves few direct traces in the geological record, making reconstructions of this crucial element of the climate system inherently difficult. We produced a regional Mediterranean synthesis of paleo-proxy data from the sea surface to alpine altitudes. This provides a detailed observational context for change in the three-dimensional structure of atmospheric circulation between the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, approximately 23,000 to 19,000 years ago) and the present. The synthesis reveals evidence for frequent cold polar air incursions, topographically channeled into the northwestern Mediterranean. Anomalously steep vertical temperature gradients in the central Mediterranean imply local convective precipitation. We find the LGM patterns to be analogous, though amplified, to previously reconstructed phases of enhanced meridional winter circulation during the Maunder Minimum (the Little Ice Age).

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