Highlights Quantitative estimates of climate at a key South African site over the past 20 kyr. Reconstructed trends show strong links with regional sea-surface temperatures. Reconstructions indicate interhemispheric synchrony in the African tropics. Findings do not support the hypothesis of direct insolation forcing of tropical African climates. Highlights a promising technique for analyzing palaeobotanical data in the region.
The discovery of sensitive paleoenvironmental proxies contained within fossilized rock hyrax middens from the margin of the central Namib Desert, Africa, is providing unprecedented insight into the region's environmental history. High-resolution stable carbon and nitrogen isotope records spanning 0-11,700 cal (calibrated) yr B.P. indicate phases of relatively humid conditions from 8700-7500, 6900-6700, 5600-4900, and 4200-3500 cal yr B.P., with a period of marked aridity occurring from 3500 until ca. 300 cal yr B.P. Transitions between these phases appear to have occurred very rapidly, often within <200 years. Of particular importance are: (1) the observed relationship between regional aridifi cation and the decline in Northern Hemisphere insolation across the Holocene, and (2) the signifi cance of suborbital scale variations in climate that covary strongly with fl uctuations in solar forcing. Together, these elements call for a fundamental reexamination of the role of orbital forcing on tropical African systems, and a reconsideration of what factors drive climate change in the region. The quality and resolution of these data far surpass any other evidence available from the region, and the continued development of this unique archive promises to revolutionize paleoenvironmental studies in southern Africa.on June 8, 2015 geology.gsapubs.org Downloaded from
Presented here are stable nitrogen isotope data from a rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) middens from northwestern Namibia that record a series of rapid aridification events beginning at ca. 3800 cal yr BP, and which mark a progressive decrease in regional humidity across the Holocene. Strong correlations exist between this record and other terrestrial and marine archives from southern Africa, indicating that the observed pattern of climate change is regionally coherent. Combined, these data indicate hemispheric synchrony in tropical African climate change during the Holocene, with similar trends characterising the termination of the ‘African Humid Period’ (AHP) in both the northern and southern tropics. These findings run counter to the widely accepted model of direct low-latitude insolation forcing, which requires an anti-phase relationship to exist between the hemispheres. The combined dataset highlights: 1) the importance of forcing mechanisms influencing the high northern latitudes in effecting low-latitude climate change in Africa, and 2) the potential importance of solar forcing and variations in the Earth's geomagnetic shield in determining both long-term and rapid centennial-scale climate changes, identifying a possible mechanism for the variations marking the AHP termination in both the southern and northern tropics.
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.