Climate and hydrological changes in tropical Africa during the past million years

Françoise GASSE

en Comptes Rendus Palevol 5 (1-2) - Pages 35-43

Published on 28 February 2006

This article is a part of the thematic issue Climates - Culture - Society in prehistoric times. From the appearance of hominids to the Neolithic.

Tropical African climate has oscillated between markedly wetter and drier conditions on all timescales in response to global climate disturbances. A step-like increase in aridity over the past 3 Ma has been primarily paced by orbital cycles coupled with the onset and amplification of high-latitude glacial cycles. On the 104 –103 -ka timescales, observed changes imply interactions between insolation, sea-surface conditions and vegetation. High-frequency variations could be linked to oscillations in major atmospheric circulation modes, in solar output, or to major volcanic events.


Tropical Africa, palaeoclimates, palaeohydrology, Pliocene, Quaternary

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