Stalagmite-Inferred Climate in the Western Mediterranean during the Roman Warm Period

Hsun Ming Hu, Véronique Michel, Patricia Valensi, Horng Sheng Mii, Elisabetta Starnini, Marta Zunino, Chuan Chou Shen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The circum-Mediterranean region is the cradle of ancient civilizations that had their roots in the Holocene. Climate change has been considered a key element that contributed to their rise or fall. The Roman Warm Period (RWP), 200 B.C. to 400 A.D., was the warmest period in Europe during the last two thousand years. Hydroclimatic change at the end of the RWP has been suggested as a possible influence on the stability of the Roman political regime and the eventual collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. A lack of precise proxy records hampers our understanding of hydroclimatic variability over the RWP. Here we present a stalagmite-based climate record from 550 ± 10 B.C. to 950 ± 7 A.D. (2σ) from northern Italy, which reveals a climatic trend of warming and increased humidity throughout the RWP. By comparison with other proxy records in Europe and the circum-Mediterranean region, we argue that the warm, humid climate in southern Europe could be linked to the multi-centennial warming of the Mediterranean Sea. Our record further suggests a century-long rapid drying trend from the early-4th to early-5th century, followed by a 100-year-long drought event, which could have influenced the fall of the Roman Empire.

Original languageEnglish
Article number93
JournalClimate
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jul

Keywords

  • Mediterranean
  • Roman empire
  • Roman warm period
  • climate change
  • stalagmite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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