Alessandro Incarbona, Giuseppe Zarcone, Mauro Agate, Sergio Bonomo, Enrico Stefano, Federico Masini, Fabio Russo, Luca Sineo
June 1, 2010
We present a thorough review of the knowledge on the climate and environment in Sicily over the last 20 000 years, taking into account results of several studies carried using terrestrial and marine records. We obtain a coherent framework of the most important changes succeeded in the island, even if some points need further investigation. All the reconstructions of surface temperatures of the seas and the air surrounding Sicily point out severe climatic conditions during the last glacial period. The steppe- and semisteppe-like vegetation pattern testifies, together with additional evidence from geochemical data of lacustrine evidence, markedly arid conditions. Fi-nally, significant episodes of sea level drop connected Sicily to the Italian Peninsula and favoured the dispersion of faunal elements from southern Italy. The transition between the last glacial and the Holocene was not characterized by a gradual warming but was punctuated by two abrupt suborbital climatic fluctuations: Bølling-Allerød (warm) and Younger Dryas (cold), as recognized in the sediments recovered close to the northern and southern coast of Sicily. A denser arboreal cover is possibly indicated by the occurrence of dormouse and Arvicola remains. Finally the sensitivity of Sicily to climate perturbations is demonstrated by the occurrence of repeated subtle climatic anomalies during the Holocene, including the Little Ice Age, also known from historical chronicles. Forests, woods and Mediterranean maquis developed in the early-middle Holocene. Thereafter was a general decline of arboreal vegetation, following a general aridification trend that seems to be a common feature in southern Europe and North Africa. Science Greek colonization (7th century before Christ), the landscape was intensively modelled for agriculture and breeding, leading to a significant loss of vegetation cover.