, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 185-195

Climate Change in Southern and Eastern Africa During the Past Millennium and its Implications for Societal Development

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Abstract

Climatic records from equatorial eastern Africa and subtropical southern Africa have shown that both temperature and the amount of rainfall have varied over the past millennium. Moreover, the rainfall pattern in these regions varied inversely over long periods of time. Droughts started abruptly, were of multi-decadal to multi-centennial length and the changes in the hydrological budget were of large amplitude. Changing water resources in semi-arid regions clearly must have regional influences on both ecological and socio-economic processes. Through a detailed analysis of the historical and paleoclimatic evidence from southern and eastern Africa covering the past millennium it is shown that, depending on the vulnerability of a society, climatic variability can have an immense impact on societies, sometimes positive and sometimes disastrous. Therefore, the interconnected issue of world ecosystem and social resilience is the challenge for decision-makers if sustainable development is to be reached on global and local levels.