Changes in the cyclicity and variability of the eastern African paleoclimate over the last 620 kyrs

Researchdata & Literature
Maintained by Christian Willmes
Created at 3.11.2021


There is ongoing debate concerning whether or not changes in the eastern African climate, both long-term and short-term, affected the evolution, dispersal, cultural development, and technological innovations of Homo sapiens – and if so, in what way. We present the wavelet spectral analysis results of a ∼620 kyr record of environmental change from the Chew Bahir (CHB) basin in the southern Ethiopian rift, approximately 120 km from the Omo-Kibish fossil locality, which boasts one of the oldest documented appearances of H. sapiens. Our results indicate that the long-term wet-dry changes in the eastern African climate recorded in the CHB sediments were mainly caused by changes in orbital eccentricity, with relatively dry but variable climates occurring during eccentricity minima within the 400 kyr eccentricity cycle, and increased precipitation, interspersed with distinctly dryer phases associated with orbital precession, during eccentricity maxima. Such insolation-forced precipitation changes would have affected the habitat of H. sapiens in the region; the transition from Acheulean to Middle Stone Age (MSA) documented in the Olorgesailie Basin of southern Kenya coincides with a distinct eccentricity minimum with reduced precipitation and repeated abrupt climatic transitions. In contrast, at the time of the subsequent, first documented occurrence of H. sapiens in eastern Africa the climate was distinctly wetter and less variable.


Duesing, W., Kaboth-Bahr, S., Asrat, A., Cohen, A., Foerster, V., Lamb, H., Schaebitz, F., Trauth, M., Viehbergh, F. (2021): Changes in the cyclicity and variability of the eastern African paleoclimate over the last 620 kyrs. – In: Quaternary Science Reviews, Vol. 273, p: 107219, DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2021.107219

authorDuesing, Walter and Kaboth-Bahr, Stefanie and Asrat, Asfawossen and Cohen, Andrew S. and Foerster, Verena and Lamb, Henry F. and Schaebitz, Frank and Trauth, Martin H. and Viehbergh, Finn
journalQuaternary Science Reviews
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