Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 June 2018
We used a change point analysis on a late Pleistocene–Holocene lake-sediment record from the Chew Bahir basin in the southern Ethiopian Rift to determine the amplitude and duration of past climate transitions. The most dramatic changes occurred over 240 yr (from ~15,700 to 15,460 yr) during the onset of the African Humid Period (AHP), and over 990 yr (from ~4875 to 3885 yr) during its protracted termination. The AHP was interrupted by a distinct dry period coinciding with the high-latitude Younger Dryas stadial, which had an abrupt onset (less than ~100 yr) at ~13,260 yr and lasted until ~11,730 yr. Wet-dry-wet transitions prior to the AHP may reflect the high-latitude Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles, as indicated by cross-correlation of the potassium record with the NorthGRIP ice core record between ~45–20 ka. These findings may contribute to the debates regarding the amplitude, and duration and mechanisms of past climate transitions, and their possible influence on the development of early modern human cultures.
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