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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Nov 2018

Research article | 05 Nov 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Enhanced Mediterranean water cycle explains increased humidity during MIS 3 in North Africa

Mike Rogerson1, Yuri Dublyansky2, Dirk L. Hoffmann3, Marc Luetscher2,4, Christoph Spötl2, and Paul Töchterle2 Mike Rogerson et al.
  • 1School of Environmental Sciences, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull, HU6 7RX, UK
  • 2Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck, Innrain 52, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 3Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103, Leipzig, Germany
  • 4Swiss Institute for Speleology and Karst Studies (IS SKA), Serre 68, 2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Abstract. We report a new fluid inclusion dataset from Northeast Libyan speleothem SC-06-01, which is the largest speleothem fluid inclusion dataset for North Africa to date. The stalagmite was sampled in Susah cave, a low altitude coastal site, in Cyrenaica, on the northern slope of the Jebel Al-Akhdar. Speleothem fluid inclusions from latest Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 4 and throughout MIS 3 (~ 67 to ~ 30 ka BP) confirm the hypothesis that past humid periods in this region reflect westerly rainfall advected through the Atlantic storm track. However, most of this moisture was sourced from the Western Mediterranean, with little direct admixture of water evaporated from the Atlantic. Moreover, we identify a second moisture source likely associated with enhanced convective rainfall within the Eastern Mediterranean. The relative importance of the western and eastern moisture sources seems to differ between the humid phases recorded in SC-06-01. During humid phases forced by precession, fluid inclusions record compositions consistent with both sources, but the 52.5–50.5 ka interval forced by obliquity reveals only a western source. This is a key result, showing that although the amount of atmospheric moisture advections changes, the structure of the atmospheric circulation over the Mediterranean does not fundamentally change during orbital cycles. Consequently, an arid belt must have been retained between the Intertropical Convergence Zone and the mid-latitude winter storm corridor during MIS 3 pluvials.

Mike Rogerson et al.
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Mike Rogerson et al.
Mike Rogerson et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Rainfall in North Africa is known to vary through time, and is likely to change as global climate warms. Here, we provide a new level of understanding about past rainfall in North Africa by looking at a stalagmite which formed within northeast Libya between 67 and 30 thousand years ago. We find that at times, more rain is falling and that this moisture is mostly derived from the Western Mediterranean during winter storms. Some water is also sometimes coming from the Eastern Mediterranean.
Rainfall in North Africa is known to vary through time, and is likely to change as global...