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Monday, 18 August 2008

Sahara Paleoclimate was "When the Sahara was wetter (relevant to your interests)"

Sahara Paleoclimate was "When the Sahara was wetter (relevant to your interests)"

Paul bristolia at
Mon Aug 18 00:09:02 EDT 2008

David Garrison wrote:


How wet and for how long and how recently the Sahara
was wet of course is a determining factor in the ages
of the older Saharaian meteorites. (of course the 1,000
years ago is an error on the part of the article writer

Remains of cemetery found in Sahara A thousand
years ago, the now-barren desert was moist and
green By Randolph E. Schmid updated 6:28 p.m.
ET, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2008"

The dissication of the Sahara Desert is discussed in
"Climate and environmental history of the Sahara: the
last 6000 years" by Dr.Patrick Honecker at:

He states:

"The results of this work document a progressive drying
of the regional terrestrial ecosystem between 5600 and
2700 years ago, in response to gradually decreasing
tropical monsoon rainfall. This drying followed a logical
ecological sequence starting with tropical grassland trees
and herbs being replaced by typical Sahel vegetation,
followed by loss of grass cover and establishment of
the modern desert plant community that is largely
restricted to oases."


"In summary, this new environmental reconstruction from
within the Sahara proper strongly contrasts with the
generally accepted hypothesis that the ‘green Sahara’
which existed between 10,000 and ~6000 years ago had ended

The paper ("work") discussing the paleoclimatology of the
Sahara Desert is:

Francus, P., J.-P. Cazet, M. Fagot, B. Rumes, J. M. Russell,
F. Darius, D. J. Conley, M. Schuster, H. von Suchodoletz, and
D. R. Engstrom, 2008 Climate-Driven Ecosystem Succession in
the Sahara: The Past 6000 Years. Science. vol. 320, no. 5877,
pp. 765-768.

The abstract to this paper can be found at:

Their paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the pollen from a
continuous core covering 6000-year from northern Chad indicates
a "progressive drying of the regional terrestrial ecosystem"
that resulted in strong reductions in tropical trees and then
Sahelian grassland cover" and "large-scale dust mobilization"
starting about 4300 calendar years before the present. They
concluded that "today's desert ecosystem and regional wind
regime were established around 2700 calendar years before
the present."

A PDF file of this paper can be found at:

A discussion of this paper can be found in "Study:
Sahara Gradually Dried Up Over 6,000 Years" at:

Another recent paper about the paleoclimatology of the
Sahara Desert is;

Bubenzer1, O., and H. Riemer, 2007, Holocene Climatic
Change and Human Settlement Between the Central Sahara
and the Nile Valley: Archaeological and Geomorphological
Results. Geoarchaeology, vol. 22, no. 6, 607–620.

For the eastern Sahara, they conclude:

"The evidence derived from archaeological excavations and
surveys coupled to nearly 500 14C dates (Figure 2) suggests
that the Holocene wet phase lasted from approximately
9500–6000 B.P. (9000–5000 cal. B.C., calibration: dispersion
calibration program, Cologne 2001, After
the hyper-arid Pleistocene, the tropical summer rain front
moved about 700–1000 km northward (e.g., Haynes, 1987;
Neumann, 1989a; Pachur and Hoelzmann, 2000), which
initiated more humid conditions in the Eastern Sahara."

Notice that the Pleistocene before 9,500 BP was hyper-arid
and the "wet" Sahara was only from 9500–6000 B.P.

An interesting web page on this topic is "Africa During the
Last 150,000 Years" by Jonathan Adams at:

This is what he has to say about the Sahara:

"(dates in Guo et al are given in 14C years ago on the
left, approximate calibrated of 'real' dates are given
on the right)

Moist 9,500-8,200 14C ya (10,400-9,100 ya)
Slight drying 8,200-8,000 14C ya (9,100-8,900 ya)
Moist 8,000-7,000 14C ya (8,900-7,900 ya)
Moderately dry 7,000-5,700 14C ya (7,900-6,500 ya)
Moist 5,700-4,000 14C ya (6,500-4,500 ya)
Very dry - as dry as at present - 4,000-3,800 14C ya (4,500-4,100 ya)
Slightly moister than present 3,800-3,500 14C ya (4,100-3,700 ya)
After 3,500 14C ya (3,700 ya). Remaining about as dry as at present"


Paul H.

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