The Mediterranean is a landlocked, semi-enclosed marginal sea that extends between 6°E and 37°W, and 30°N and 46°N. In spite of its limited size this basin is considered a very complex marine environment because of the variety of physical processes that occur there which are affected also by the peculiar morphology of its connecting straits. Deepwater ventilation in the Mediterranean is primarily salt-driven, and secondarily temperature-driven in contrasts with the temperature-dominated mode in the modern world ocean. This offers a useful analogue for world ocean circulation modes in past times with very warm and relatively equable global climates, such as the Mesozoic. It is generally believed that the small volume of the Mediterranean Sea, respect to ocean basins, should allow any change in climatic forcing to be recorded virtually instantaneously and in an amplified way in the ecological and palaeoceanographic records. If this assumption is reasonable for response to local forcing, it is still unclear what atmospheric system drives the changes of local forcing, due to the critical location of the basin at the boundary between a subtropical/monsoon regime and the temperate westerlies, and whether the response is the same everywhere in the basin. It has also been hypothesized that the high salt content of its waters may play a role in global processes thus enhancing the relevance of a relatively small marginal basin.
In this session we aim to explore the real potential of the Mediterranean as natural recorder of global climate and ocean changes in present and past time intervals and of its possible influence beyond its boundaries. High-resolution investigations of recent and past sedimentary records from the basin and their comparison with similar records outside it should provide new insights on the role played by the Mediterranean record in understanding global climate/ocean changes.