The 4.2 ka BP Event in the Mediterranean region: an overview
The Mediterranean region and the Levant have returned some of the clearest evidence of a climatically dry period occurring around 4200 years ago. However, some regional evidence is controversial and contradictory, and issues remain regarding timing, progression, and regional articulation of this event. In this paper, we review the evidence from selected proxies (sea-surface temperature, precipitation, and temperature reconstructed from pollen, δ18O on speleothems, and δ18O on lacustrine carbonate) over the Mediterranean Basin to infer possible regional climate patterns during the interval between 4.3 and 3.8 ka. The values and limitations of these proxies are discussed, and their potential for furnishing information on seasonality is also explored. Despite the chronological uncertainties, which are the main limitations for disentangling details of the climatic conditions, the data suggest that winter over the Mediterranean involved drier conditions, in addition to already dry summers. However, some exceptions to this prevail – where wetter conditions seem to have persisted – suggesting regional heterogeneity in climate patterns. Temperature data, even if sparse, also suggest a cooling anomaly, even if this is not uniform. The most common paradigm to interpret the precipitation regime in the Mediterranean – a North Atlantic Oscillation-like pattern – is not completely satisfactory to interpret the selected data.