We focus on the Aegean Sea region as 'natural laboratory' for high-resolution geochemical studies, of environmental response to natural abrupt climate shifts. Three events are selected that pre-date the region's main societal developments. They are centered at 9.3 (century-scale warming), 8.0 (decadal-scale cooling and century scale warming) and 6.3 ka BP (century-scale cooling/aridity) Detailed investigation of organic biomarkers in selected marine sediment records will permit to:
1) quantify in detail proxy-record for environmental (marine and terrestrial) changes due to natural climate shifts,
2) determine the sequential structure and timing of environmental responses to rapid climate changes, with clear identification of first (early warming) responses and recovery times and
3) distinguish between effects of anthropogenic and natural-induced climatic changes. In order to address the aforementioned aims, a molecular-level study of the organic matter in the sedimentary record will be performed. The determination of organic biomarkers in marine sediment can provide valuable information concerning the sources of organic matter (terrestrial vs. marine), the early diagenetic conditions in the water column and the sediment, and the paleoenvironmental condition during times of deposition. Indeed, long chain alkenones have been proved a valuable tool in order to estimate past sea surface temperatures (SST). A multi-proxy study of the selected sediment cores is planned with collaboration with other institutions, comprising various paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic proxies. Multi-disciplinary character ensures a high level of unbiased cross-validation between interpretations from the individual disciplines. The proposed study has been built to respond to the challenge of understanding the mechanisms and consequences of climatic changes using oceanic sedimentary records. During my 1-year stay in NCMR, I am planning to achieve the goals of the proposed research and to promote the interaction with researchers of vicinal fields within the Host Institution, as marine geologists, biologists and microbiologists. One of the major benefits for the Host Institution (NCMR) will derive from the fact that I will apply my experience in organic geochemistry and chemical oceanography using bulk molecular and isotopic lines of investigation in order to develop the Organic Geochemistry research field within NCMR. This will contribute to a better understanding of environmental problems and oceanic carbon cycling in recent and paleo-environments, in a regional and global scale. On the same time, I would like to foster collaborations of NCMR, with paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic communities at a national and international level. This proposal will act as the basis upon which I am willing to build a productive, cutting-edge organic geochemistry research group in NCMR.