Pollen-based temperature and precipitation inferences for the montane forest of Mt. Kilimanjaro during the last Glacial and the Holocene
L. Schüler1,2, A. Hemp1, and H. Behling21Department of Plant Systematics, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany 2Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
Received: 11 Dec 2013 – Accepted for review: 29 Dec 2013 – Discussion started: 15 Jan 2014
Abstract. The relationship between modern pollen-rain taxa and measured climate variables was explored along the elevational gradient of the southern slope of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Pollen assemblages in 28 pollen traps positioned on 14 montane forest vegetation plots were identified and their relationship with climate variables was examined using multivariate statistical methods. Canonical correspondence analysis revealed that the mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation and minimum temperature each account for significant fractions of the variation in pollen taxa. A training set of 107 modern pollen taxa was used to derive temperature and precipitation transfer functions based on pollen subsets using weighted-averaging-partial-least-squares (WA-PLS) techniques. The transfer functions were then applied to a fossil pollen record from the montane forest of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the climate parameter estimates for the Late Glacial and the Holocene on Mt. Kilimanjaro were inferred. Our results present the first quantitatively reconstructed temperature and precipitation estimates for Mt Kilimanjaro and give highly interesting insights into the past 45 000 yr of climate dynamics in tropical East Africa. The climate reconstructions are consistent with the interpretation of pollen data in terms of vegetation and climate history of afro-montane forest in East Africa. Minimum temperatures above the frostline as well as increased precipitation turn out to be crucial for the development and expansion of montane forest during the Holocene. In contrast, consistently low minimum temperatures as well as about 25% drier climate conditions prevailed during the pre LGM, which kept the montane vegetation composition in a stable state. In prospective studies, the quantitative climate reconstruction will be improved by additional modern pollen rain data, especially from lower elevations with submontane dry forests and colline savanna vegetation in order to extend the reference climate gradient.
Schüler, L., Hemp, A., and Behling, H.: Pollen-based temperature and precipitation inferences for the montane forest of Mt. Kilimanjaro during the last Glacial and the Holocene, Clim. Past Discuss., 10, 195-234, doi:10.5194/cpd-10-195-2014, 2014.