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Hydrological constraints of paleo-Lake Suguta in the Northern Kenya Rift during the African Humid Period (15-5 ka BP)

  • During the African Humid Period (AHP, 15-5 ka BP) an almost 300 m deep paleo-lake covering 2200 km(2) developed in the Suguta Valley, in the Northern Kenya Rift Data from lacustrine sediments and paleo-shorelines indicate that a large paleo-lake already existed by 13.9 ka BP, and record rapid water level fluctuations of up to 100 m within periods of 100 years or less, and a final lowstand at the end of the AHP (5 ka BP). We used a hydro-balance model to assess the abruptness of these water level fluctuations and identify their causes. We observed that fluctuations within the AHP were caused by abrupt changes in precipitation of 26-40%. Despite the absence of continuous lacustrine data documenting the onset of the AHP in the Suguta Valley, we conclude from the hydro-balance model that only an abrupt onset to the AHP, prior to 14.8 ka BP, could have led to high water levels recorded. The modeling results suggest that the sudden increase in rainfall was the direct consequence of an eastward migration of the Congo Air Boundary (CAB),During the African Humid Period (AHP, 15-5 ka BP) an almost 300 m deep paleo-lake covering 2200 km(2) developed in the Suguta Valley, in the Northern Kenya Rift Data from lacustrine sediments and paleo-shorelines indicate that a large paleo-lake already existed by 13.9 ka BP, and record rapid water level fluctuations of up to 100 m within periods of 100 years or less, and a final lowstand at the end of the AHP (5 ka BP). We used a hydro-balance model to assess the abruptness of these water level fluctuations and identify their causes. We observed that fluctuations within the AHP were caused by abrupt changes in precipitation of 26-40%. Despite the absence of continuous lacustrine data documenting the onset of the AHP in the Suguta Valley, we conclude from the hydro-balance model that only an abrupt onset to the AHP, prior to 14.8 ka BP, could have led to high water levels recorded. The modeling results suggest that the sudden increase in rainfall was the direct consequence of an eastward migration of the Congo Air Boundary (CAB), caused by an enhanced atmospheric pressure gradient between East Africa and southern Asia during a northern hemisphere (NH) summer insolation maximum. In contrast the end of the AHP must have been gradual despite an abrupt change in the source of precipitation when a decreasing pressure gradient between Asia and Africa prevented the CAB from reaching the study area. This abruptness was probably buffered by a contemporaneous change in precession producing an insolation maximum at the equator during September-October. This change would have meant that the only rain source was the Intertropical Convergence Zone (IT CZ), which would have carried a greater amount of moisture during the short rainy season thus slowing the fall in water level over a period of about 1000 years in association with the reduction in insolation. The results of this study provide an indication of the amount of time available for humans in north-eastern Africa to adapt in response to a changing climate, from hunting and gathering to farming and herding.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Annett Junginger, Martin H. Trauth
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2013.09.005
ISSN:0921-8181 (print)
ISSN:1872-6364 (online)
Parent Title (English):Global and planetary change
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2013
Year of Completion:2013
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:African Humid Period; Congo Air Boundary; East African Rift System; Suguta Valley
Volume:111
Issue:12
Pagenumber:15
First Page:174
Last Page:188
Funder:German Research Foundation (DFG); Government of Kenya [MOST 13/001/30C 59/10, 13/001/30C 59/18, 13/001/30C 59/22]; University of Nairobi
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften
Peer Review:Referiert