, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 369–374

Paleo-environmental perspectives on the Sahel drought of 1968–73

  • Butzer K. W. 

DOI: 10.1007/BF00241460

Cite this article as:
Butzer, K.W. GeoJournal (1983) 7: 369. doi:10.1007/BF00241460


A review of stream, dune and lake phenomena in several well-studied sectors of the Sahel indicates an informative record of repeated environmental change. Blowing sand encroached far into the now semi-arid savanna between approximately 20,000 and 12,500 years ago, which lakes had substatially greater volumes and rivers higher discharges between 9000 and 5000 years ago. But rapid change and high-amplitude variability have always been the rule. During the last 2500 years conditions fluctuated about the modern median, with strong short and medium-term oscillations. The Sahel drought after 1968 falls within the norm of at least 6 earlier, dry anomalies verfied since 1400 AD. Whether or not the coincidence of cumulative overgrazing and population pressure with severe drought has triggered a geomorphologic response that is unique in the record, can only be decided after much more systematic work has been carried out.

Copyright information

© Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Butzer K. W. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Geogr.The University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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