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Authors: Mesing, S. A.* 
Tunno, I.* 
Sagnotti, L.* 
Florindo, F.* 
Noble, P.* 
Archer, C.* 
Zimmerman, S.* 
Pavón-Carrasco, F. J.* 
Cifani, G.* 
Passigli, S.* 
Piovesan, G.* 
Title: 2700 years of Mediterranean environmental change in central Italy: a synthesis of sedimentary and cultural records to interpret past impacts of climate on society
Journal: Quaternary Science Reviews 
Series/Report no.: /116(2015)
Publisher: Elsevier Science Limited
Issue Date: 23-Mar-2015
DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.03.022
Keywords: Central Italy
Mediterranean environments
Society and climate
Paleoenvironmental change
Historical documents
Late Holocene
Roman Empire
Subject Classification01. Atmosphere::01.01. Atmosphere::01.01.02. Climate 
01. Atmosphere::01.01. Atmosphere::01.01.03. Pollution 
02. Cryosphere::02.03. Ice cores::02.03.03. Climate Indicators 
02. Cryosphere::02.03. Ice cores::02.03.05. Paleoclimate 
03. Hydrosphere::03.01. General::03.01.06. Paleoceanography and paleoclimatology 
04. Solid Earth::04.05. Geomagnetism::04.05.06. Paleomagnetism 
04. Solid Earth::04.05. Geomagnetism::04.05.07. Rock magnetism 
Abstract: Abrupt climate change in the past is thought to have disrupted societies by accelerating environmental degradation, potentially leading to cultural collapse. Linking climate change directly to societal disruption is challenging because socioeconomic factors also play a large role, with climate being secondary or sometimes inconsequential. Combining paleolimnologic, historical, and archaeological methods provides for a more secure basis for interpreting the past impacts of climate on society. We present pollen, nonpollen palynomorph, geochemical, paleomagnetic and sedimentary data from a high-resolution 2700 yr lake sediment core from central Italy and compare these data with local historical documents and archeological surveys to reconstruct a record of environmental change in relation to socioeconomic history and climatic fluctuations. Here we document cases in which environmental change is strongly linked to changes in local land management practices in the absence of clear climatic change, as well as examples when climate change appears to have been a strong catalyst that resulted in significant environmental change that impacted local communities. During the Imperial Roman period, despite a long period of stable, mild climate, and a large urban population in nearby Rome, our site shows only limited evidence for environmental degradation. Warm and mild climate during the Medieval Warm period, on the other hand, led to widespread deforestation and erosion. The ability of the Romans to utilize imported resources through an extensive trade network may have allowed for preservation of the environment near the Roman capital, whereas during medieval time, the need to rely on local resources led to environmental degradation. Cool wet climate during the Little Ice Age led to a breakdown in local land use practices, widespread land abandonment and rapid reforestation. Our results present a highresolution regional case study that explores the effect of climate change on society for an underdocumented region of Europe.
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