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Mediterranean winter rainfall in phase with African monsoons during the past 1.36 million years

Wagner, Bernd; Vogel, Hendrik; Francke, Alexander; Friedrich, Tobias; Donders, Timme; Lacey, Jack H.; Leng, Melanie J.; Regattieri, Eleonora; Sadori, Laura; Wilke, Thomas; Zanchetta, Giovanni; Albrecht, Christian; Bertini, Adele; Combourieu-Nebout, Nathalie; Cvetkoska, Aleksandra; Giaccio, Biagio; Grazhdani, Andon; Hauffe, Torsten; Holtvoeth, Jens; Joannin, Sebastien; Jovanovska, Elena; Just, Janna; Kouli, Katerina; Kousis, Ilias; Koutsodendris, Andreas; Krastel, Sebastian; Lagos, Markus; Leicher, Niklas; Levkov, Zlatko; Lindhorst, Katja; Masi, Alessia; Melles, Martin; Mercuri, Anna M.; Nomade, Sebastien; Nowaczyk, Norbert; Panagiotopoulos, Konstantinos; Peyron, Odile; Reed, Jane M.; Sagnotti, Leonardo; Sinopoli, Gaia; Stelbrink, Björn; Sulpizio, Roberto; Timmermann, Axel; Tofilovska, Slavica; Torri, Paola; Wagner-Cremer, Friederike; Wonik, Thomas; Zhang, Xiaosen


Bernd Wagner

Hendrik Vogel

Alexander Francke

Tobias Friedrich

Timme Donders

Jack H. Lacey

Melanie J. Leng

Eleonora Regattieri

Laura Sadori

Thomas Wilke

Giovanni Zanchetta

Christian Albrecht

Adele Bertini

Nathalie Combourieu-Nebout

Aleksandra Cvetkoska

Biagio Giaccio

Andon Grazhdani

Torsten Hauffe

Jens Holtvoeth

Sebastien Joannin

Elena Jovanovska

Janna Just

Katerina Kouli

Ilias Kousis

Andreas Koutsodendris

Sebastian Krastel

Markus Lagos

Niklas Leicher

Zlatko Levkov

Katja Lindhorst

Alessia Masi

Martin Melles

Anna M. Mercuri

Sebastien Nomade

Norbert Nowaczyk

Konstantinos Panagiotopoulos

Odile Peyron

Jane M. Reed

Leonardo Sagnotti

Gaia Sinopoli

Björn Stelbrink

Roberto Sulpizio

Axel Timmermann

Slavica Tofilovska

Paola Torri

Friederike Wagner-Cremer

Thomas Wonik

Xiaosen Zhang


Mediterranean climates are characterized by strong seasonal contrasts between dry summers and wet winters. Changes in winter rainfall are critical for regional socioeconomic development, but are difficult to simulate accurately and reconstruct on Quaternary timescales. This is partly because regional hydroclimate records that cover multiple glacial–interglacial cycles with different orbital geometries, global ice volume and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are scarce. Moreover, the underlying mechanisms of change and their persistence remain unexplored. Here we show that, over the past 1.36 million years, wet winters in the northcentral Mediterranean tend to occur with high contrasts in local, seasonal insolation and a vigorous African summer monsoon. Our proxy time series from Lake Ohrid on the Balkan Peninsula, together with a 784,000-year transient climate model hindcast, suggest that increased sea surface temperatures amplify local cyclone development and refuel North Atlantic low-pressure systems that enter the Mediterranean during phases of low continental ice volume and high concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. A comparison with modern reanalysis data shows that current drivers of the amount of rainfall in the Mediterranean share some similarities to those that drive the reconstructed increases in precipitation. Our data cover multiple insolation maxima and are therefore an important benchmark for testing climate model performance.


Wagner, B., Vogel, H., Francke, A., Friedrich, T., Donders, T., Lacey, J. H., …Zhang, X. (in press). Mediterranean winter rainfall in phase with African monsoons during the past 1.36 million years. Nature, 573, 256-260.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 28, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 2, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 10, 2019
Journal Nature
Print ISSN 0028-0836
Electronic ISSN 1476-4687
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 573
Pages 256-260
Keywords Multidisciplinary
Public URL
Publisher URL


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