East African paleoenvironments are highly variable, marked by extreme fluctuations in moisture availability, which has far-reaching implications for the origin, evolution and dispersal of Homo sapiens in and beyond the region. This paper presents results from a pilot core from the Chew Bahir basin in southern Ethiopia that records the climatic history of the past 45 ka, with emphasis on the African Humid Period (AHP, ∼15-5 ka calBP). Geochemical, physical and biological indicators show that Chew Bahir responded to climatic fluctuations on millennial to centennial timescales, and to the precessional cycle, since the Last Glacial Maximum. Potassium content of the sediment appears to be a reliable proxy for aridity, showing that Chew Bahir reacted to the insolation-controlled humidity increase of the AHP with a remarkably abrupt onset and a gradual termination, framing a sharply defined arid phase (∼12.8-11.6 ka calBP) corresponding to the Younger Dryas chronozone. The Chew Bahir record correlates well with low- and high-latitude paleoclimate records, demonstrating that the site responded to regional and global climate changes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth-Surface Processes