Paleoclimate records are important tools for understanding climate modifications and contextualizing recent anthropogenic perturbations in climate changes relative to the natural variability in the Earth climate system. For the marine environment, reliable instrumental measurements of climatic variables such as sea surface temperature, salinity and dynamics of the water masses are generally limited to the last 150 years, and are too geographically scanty and temporally non-continuous to encompass the whole range of climate variability. A complementary approach is the examination of geochemical tracers in natural archives such as shallow- and deep-water corals. These marine organisms secrete calcareous skeletons with stable isotopes, minor and trace elements contents being incorporated as a function of the physical and/or chemical parameters in the ambient seawater, modulated to varying extents by biological factors. Trace element systematics, stable and radiogenic isotopic compositions in carbonate skeletons are therefore potentially capable of providing long-term marine environmental records. The scope of this project is to develop long, continuous high-resolution climate records on a variety of timescales ranging from several years (monthly to decadal) to many thousands of years (millennial scale), using the chemical variations (trace elements, U/Th, radiocarbon and Nd-isotopes) of Mediterranean and Atlantic shallow- and deep-water coral skeletons. The project aims to better understand the mechanisms governing climate variations in the Mediterranean Basin and to quantify the relationship with global changes, with a specific focus on the modifications in the Mediterranean Sea – Atlantic Ocean connection. All the data obtained will eventually be used to carry out modelling exercises of past Mediterranean/Atlantic climate and to test how well a particular climate model simulated natural climate variability.
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