Recurring types of variability and transitions in the ∼620 kyr record of climate change from the Chew Bahir basin, southern Ethiopia

Martin H. Trauth, Asfawossen Asrat, Andrew S. Cohen, Walter Duesing, Verena Foerster, Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr, K. Hauke Kraemer, Henry F. Lamb, Norbert Marwan, Mark A. Maslin, Frank Schäbitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The Chew Bahir Drilling Project (CBDP) aims to test possible linkages between climate and hominin evolution in Africa through the analysis of sediment cores that have recorded environmental changes in the Chew Bahir basin (CHB). In this statistical project we used recurrence plots (RPs) together with a recurrence quantification analysis (RQA) to distinguish two types of variability and transitions in the Chew Bahir aridity record and compare them with the ODP Site 967 wetness index from the eastern Mediterranean. The first type of variability is one of slow variations with cycles of ∼20 kyr, reminiscent of the Earth's precession cycle, and subharmonics of this orbital cycle. In addition to these cyclical wet-dry fluctuations in the area, extreme events often occur, i.e. short wet or dry episodes, lasting for several centuries or even millennia, and rapid transitions between these wet and dry episodes. The second type of variability is characterized by relatively low variation on orbital time scales, but significant century-millennium-scale variations with progressively increasing frequencies. Within this type of variability there are extremely fast transitions between dry and wet within a few decades or years, in contrast to those within Type 1 with transitions over several hundreds of years. Type 1 variability probably reflects the influence of precessional forcing in the lower latitudes at times with maximum values of the long (400 kyr) eccentricity cycle of the Earth's orbit around the sun, with the tendency towards extreme events. Type 2 variability seems to be linked with minimum values of this cycle. There does not seem to be a systematic correlation between Type 1 or Type 2 variability with atmospheric CO2 concentration. The different types of variability and the transitions between those types had important effects on the availability of water, and could have transformed eastern Africa's environment considerably, which would have had important implications for the shaping of the habitat of H. sapiens and the direct ancestors of this species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106777
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'Recurring types of variability and transitions in the ∼620 kyr record of climate change from the Chew Bahir basin, southern Ethiopia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this