Pollen analysis has been performed on a 98 m core recovered in the palaeo-lake of Acerno (Campania, Italy). This study identified four main vegetation zones that can be correlated with Quaternary climatic events. In particular, one interglacial–glacial cycle was recorded in the succession the duration of which was estimated at around 100 ka. The interglacial period (Zone 2) is characterized by large amounts of deciduous and altitudinal forest elements; Mediterranean xerophytes are rather rare because of the distance from the palaeo-sea coast. The interglacial–glacial transition (Zone 3) shows a very rapid decrease of the arboreal taxa and a contemporaneous increase in the frequency of the non-arboreal element. The genus Pinus, excluded from the pollen totals, shows its highest percentage and concentration values during the transition. The glacial period (Zone 4) is characterized by the dominance of herbaceous and steppe elements, and by rather large amounts of Pinus. The floral composition of the analysed succession allows a late mid-Pleistocene age to be proposed for the Acerno palaeo-lake.
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The climate of the early Earth was probably very warm and has, in general, reduced since the Archean. However, it now seems that the world is about 0.6°C warmer than it was 100 years ago and estimates of the rate of global warming over the next century range from 0.16°C to 0.35°C per decade. Concurrently, global sea-level is predicted to rise from 2.4 to 10 cm per decade. These rates of change are much faster than those normally associated with the geological record, causing geologists and palaeontologists to reassess their data and their forecasts on rates of future change.
With the current interest in global climatic change and, more specifically, with global warming, it is clear that palaeontologists have valuable information to provide on the impacts of past climatic change. This volume contains papers from an international array of such geologists and palaeontologists, showing how studies of micro- and macrofossils, plant and vertebrate fossils from a range of geological ages have contributed to our understanding of how climate affects both local and more widespread areas. The contributions are arranged in geological order, ranging from the Permo-Carboniferous to the post-glacial recovery of the last 18,000 years, with an emphasis on climate change during the last two million years, particularly in NW Europe.
Climates: Past and Present will be of interest to palaeontologists, geologists and palaeoclimatologists who specialize in climatic reconstructions and any professionals enagaged in research into the geological aspects of climate change.