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Influence of Agulhas forcing of Holocene climate change in South Africa’s southern Cape

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 August 2018

Brian M. Chase
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR 5554, Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution-Montpellier, Université Montpellier, 34095 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France
Lynne J. Quick
Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, South Lane, Upper Campus, 7701 Rondebosch, South Africa Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape 6031, South Africa
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This paper analyses a series of high-quality continuous records from southeastern Africa to study the spatiotemporal patterning of Holocene hydroclimatic anomalies in the region. Results indicate dominant frequencies of variability at millennial time scales, and a series of anomalies broadly common to all records. Of particular interest, data from the southern Cape coast exhibit periods of wetter/drier conditions that are out of phase with the sites less than 150 km away in the adjacent interior, but in phase with sites in tropical regions over 1000 km to the northeast. To explain such spatial patterns and gradients, we propose that the Agulhas Current may be a critical vector by which tropical climatic signals are propagated along the littoral zone, exerting a dominant, highly localized influence on near-coastal environmental conditions. Limitations in the data available do not allow for a detailed examination of the climatic dynamics related to these phenomena, but this paper highlights a series of avenues for future research to clarify the spatial extent and stability of the patterns observed.

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Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2018 

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