Holocene Monsoon variability in East Africa: a marine perspective

Sarah.Romahn [ at ] awi.de


The processes that control past monsoon variability in the East African Tropics during the Holocene are poorly understood. Especially the role of Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) controlling East African Rainfall on millennial timescales, as it is observed on decadal timescales, is currently intensely debated. In addition, it has been suggested recently that the longitudinal migration of the Congo Air Boundary (CAB) modulates East African precipitation on a regional scale as well [Tierney et al., 2011]. Here, we present a high-resolution marine sediment record for the past 12 kyrs from offshore Tanzania, close to the Rufiji River delta, to contribute to the current debate from a marine point of view. We reconstructed past SST and !18Oseawater, derived from planktic foraminiferal Mg/Ca and !18O, and past Sea Surface Salinity (SSS) variations, derived from planktic foraminiferal Ba/Ca-ratios. In the vicinity of river deltas, Ba/Ca-ratios have potential to record precipitation changes in the rivers’ catchment area. Our records show that East African precipitation, derived from Ba/Ca-ratios, roughly varies in concert with Indian Ocean SST, suggesting higher Indian Ocean SST to be an important prerequisite for stronger precipitation, and hence an intense monsoon episode in East Africa. We calculated the difference ("SST) between our record of Indian Ocean SST and SST of the tropical Atlantic [Weldeab et al., 2005], showing that "SST variability resembles the isotopic pattern of the Kilimanjaro ice core record [Thompson et al., 2002]. We suggest this to be the consequence of a longitudinal movement of the CAB over the African Continent, changing the trajectory of Indian Ocean moisture into the continent and therefore affecting the !18O of the East African rainout.

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AGU Fall Meeting, 03 Dec 2012 - 07 Dec 2012, San Francisco, USA.
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Romahn, S. , Mackensen, A. , Groeneveld, J. and Pätzold, J. (2012): Holocene Monsoon variability in East Africa: a marine perspective , AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 3 December 2012 - 7 December 2012 .

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