Early warning signals of the termination of the African Humid Period(s)

Martin H. Trauth, Asfawossen Asrat, Markus L. Fischer, Peter O. Hopcroft, Verena Foerster, Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr, Karin Kindermann, Henry F. Lamb, Norbert Marwan, Mark A. Maslin, Frank Schaebitz, Paul J. Valdes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transition from a humid green Sahara to today’s hyperarid conditions in northern Africa ~5.5 thousand years ago shows the dramatic environmental change to which human societies were exposed and had to adapt to. In this work, we show that in the 620,000-year environmental record from the Chew Bahir basin in the southern Ethiopian Rift, with its decadal resolution, this one thousand year long transition is particularly well documented, along with 20–80 year long droughts, recurring every ~160 years, as possible early warnings. Together with events of extreme wetness at the end of the transition, these droughts form a pronounced climate “flickering”, which can be simulated in climate models and is also present in earlier climate transitions in the Chew Bahir environmental record, indicating that transitions with flickering are characteristic of this region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3697
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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