Study: Medieval Climate Change Existed in Africa

by A. Watts, Feb 24, 2018 in WUWT

Mapping Medieval Climate Change in Africa:

Continental warming, coastal cooling and shifting rainbelts 1000 years ago

Global climate is currently undergoing major change. Experts agree that this change is driven by a combination of man-made and natural factors. However, full quantification of the anthropogenic and natural components is still a matter of debate. In order to better understand the contribution of natural climate variability and distinguish this from man-made influence, researchers worldwide have gone out to the field to study Earth’s pre-industrial climate history. Of particular interest are the past thousand years, which in Europe and North America have seen the transition from a rather warm medieval period to major cooling of the Little Ice Age, followed by the temperature rebound of the Current Warm Period which was further intensified by human greenhouse gas emissions. Our understanding of medieval climate outside this well-studied North Atlantic region is unfortunately still poor.

An international team led by geoscientist Sebastian Lüning wants to change this. Lüning is a professional resources geologist who in his sparetime works on paleoclimatological studies with the Switzerland-based Institute for Hydrography, Geoecology and Climate Sciences. Together with colleagues from Poland, Nigeria, Turkey and Germany they embarked on a journey through the scientific literature to shed light on the so-called ‘Medieval Climate Anomaly’, a period comprising of the years 1000-1200 AD. The initial focus region of their study was Africa. Lüning and his team crawled through hundreds of publications and mosaiced together a fascinating picture of African medieval climate change that tracks ancient heat waves, local cooling, drought and phases of amplified rainfall. Using modern database and visualization technology, the team managed to synthesize astonishing trends from the large amount of filtered data. Lüning explains the challenge: