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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-18
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-18
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Feb 2019

Research article | 20 Feb 2019

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

Effects of atmospheric CO2 variability of the past 800 ka on the biomes of Southeast Africa

Lydie M. Dupont1, Thibaut Caley2, and Isla S. Castañeda3 Lydie M. Dupont et al.
  • 1MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 2EPOC, UMR 5805, CNRS, University of Bordeaux, Pessac, Cs 50023, France
  • 3University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Geosciences, Amherst, MA 01003, USA

Abstract. Very little is known about the impact of atmospheric carbon dioxide pressure (pCO2) on the shaping of biomes. The development of pCO2 throughout the Brunhes Chron may be considered a natural experiment to elucidate relationships between vegetation and pCO2. While the glacial periods show low to very low values (~ 230 to ~ 190 ppmv, respectively), the pCO2 levels of the interglacial periods vary from intermediate to relatively high (~250 to ~ 270, respectively). To study the influence of pCO2 on the Pleistocene development of SE African vegetation, we used the pollen record of a marine core (MD96-2048) retrieved from Maputo Bay south of the Limpopo River mouth in combination with stable isotope and geochemical proxies. Applying endmember analysis, four pollen assemblages could be distinguished representing different biomes: heathland, mountain forest, shrubland and woodland. We find that the vegetation of the Limpopo River catchment and the coastal region of southern Mozambique is not only influenced by hydroclimate but by also temperature and atmospheric pCO2. Our results suggest that the extension of either open ericaceous vegetation including C4 sedges or mountain forest depended on glacial pCO2 levels, and that the main development of woodlands in the area took place after the Mid-Brunhes Event when interglacial pCO2 levels rose over 270 ppmv.

Lydie M. Dupont et al.
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Lydie M. Dupont et al.
Data sets

Pollen and spore counts of MD96-2048 L. M. Dupont https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.897922

Stable oxygen isotopes of Planulina wuellerstorfi of MD96-2048 T. Caley https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.895364

XRF Fe/Ca rations of M96-2048 T. Caley https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.895361

Sea surface temperatures (PC1) of MD96-2048 T. Caley https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.895362

n-alkane data of MD96-2048 I. S. castaneda https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.863919

Stable carbon isotopes of n-alkane of MD96-2048 E. Schefuß https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.895357

Lydie M. Dupont et al.
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Short summary
Multiproxy study of marine sediments off the Limpopo River mouth spanning the Late Pleistocene reveals the impact of atmospheric carbon dioxide on the development of the vegetation of Southeast Africa and indicates changes in the interglacial vegetation before and after the Mid-Brunhes Event (430 ka).
Multiproxy study of marine sediments off the Limpopo River mouth spanning the Late Pleistocene...
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