The study of the past climatic and environmental evolution has a fundamental importance for understanding the long-term functioning of the Earth System, for characterizing the background of natural variability in which human-induced changes operate, and for providing reliable data for the formulation of future scenarios.

This research line is identified in three main objectives: the first is the reconstruction, quantification and detailed analysis of past climate and environmental variability, and of its spatial and temporal patterns, at different temporal scales.

The second, closely linked, is the estimation and understanding of forcing, triggering, transmission and amplification mechanisms that underlie these variations, also through the development of conceptual and numerical models.

Finally, another important target is the identification, both qualitative and quantitative, of the response of different environments and ecosystems to global changes in the past.

To achieve these objectives, proxy-data are used. They are obtained through the study, at different time scales, of natural archives; with an integrated and multidisciplinary approach based on geochemistry, stratigraphy, geochronology, geomorphology, sedimentology and paleontology.

- Reconstruction of climatic and environmental variability in the "Deep geological past"

  • Analysis of the effects of climatic perturbations and paleogeographic variations on environments, depositional processes and on the biota.
  • Definition of the long-term geological, geodynamic and oceanographic processes that modulate climate feedbacks.
  • Reconstruction of the regional response of continental and marine ecosystems to major global changes in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.
  • Study of the influence of long-term climatic variations on volcanic processes.

Activities:

  • Biostratigraphy, geochemistry, cyclostratigraphy of marine and continental Mesozoic and Cenozoic geological sequences.
  • Sedimentology and stratigraphy of coastal and shallow-marine depositional systems.
  • Isotope stratigraphy (C, O, Sr, Nd).

- Reconstruction of the climatic and environmental variability of the Quaternary and Holocene

  • Analysis of the influence of global forcing, extra-regional climatic teleconnections and feedback mechanisms on the climate evolution at orbital and sub-orbital scales.
  • Reconstruction of the environmental impact of climatic variations: spatio-temporale gradients, responses and natural variability of marine and terrestrial (eco) systems, water resources, soils and landscape.
  • Study of the interactions between past climatic and environmental changes and human activities.
  • Understanding the climatic impact of volcanic activity.

Activities:

  • Stratigraphic, geochemical and geochronological study of continental successions in the Mediterranean area
  • Geomorphological and stratigraphic study of the evolution of Alpine glacialism and its interactions with tectonics.
  • Microstratigraphic and paleoecological reconstruction of coastal and lake environments.
  • Study and monitoring of hydrological and hydrogeochemical processes at different scales in the Mediterranean area, as a support tool for understanding the mechanisms and impacts of climate changes.