, Volume 214, Issue 1, pp 359-365

Holocene environments in the central Sahara

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Abstract

Palynological investigations of corings in the sebkhas of Taoudenni (N-Mali) and Segedim (N-Niger), archaeological excavations in the Acacus Mts. (SW-Libya) and charcoal records in the central Ténéré (Niger) give evidence for a northward shift of the desert-savanna boundary to 22°–20° N during the middle Holocene. Between Niger and S-Libya there was a ecological gradient from the sudanian, sahelian and saharan savannas to a denser saharan desert vegetation. After a transition phase between 6000 and 4000 BP the saharan desert vegetation was finally established in the Taoudenni and Segedim region and this degraded from ca. 2000 BP to its present condition.

During the middle Holocene the central Sahara had a monsoonal summer rain climate with an effective rainfall of 250–300 mm per year near the desert-savanna boundary (ca. 22° N). Interaction between the monsoon and the atlantic cyclones also allowed rainfall in other periods of the year.