Wetlands or lakes on the Arabian Peninsula?

A recent paper by Yehouda Enzel and colleagues published in Global and Planetary Change presents a new perspective on several Holocene lacustrine deposits on the Arabian Peninsula (API). During the last years and decades several groups reconstructed lakes filling morphological depressions of various extent during early to mid-Holocene times. Most of them are located on the southern API, where a northward shift of the ITCZ was postulated to have enabled the Indian Ocean Summer Monsoon to penetrate the Arabian landmass further than today. Some – including Tayma – were identified on the northern API, where enhanced Mediterranean winter rains or the North African summer monsoon may have provided additional rainfall (see growing body of literature on empirical evidence as well as the paper of Richard Jennings and colleagues for new model simulations). Enzel and colleagues reinterpret a wide spectrum of field evidence and conclude that all these basins were only occupied by marsh environments and that, due to extreme evaporation rates, higher rainfall amounts during early-mid-Holocene were not sufficient to create prennial lakes. They suggest that the ITCZ never significantly shifted during the Holocene and that mostly the North African summer monsoon provided a surplus in moisture. This paper definitely fuels a vivid, ongoing discussion on the magnitude of environmental changes on the Holocene API and corresponding human response, which the CLEAR Project is keen to contribute as well!

 

References

Enzel, Y., Kushnir, Y., Quade, J., 2015. The middle Holocene climatic records from Arabia: Reassessing lacustrine environments, shift of ITCZ in Arabian Sea, and impacts of the southwest Indian and African monsoons. Global and Planetary Change 129, 69-91.

Jennings, R.P., Singarayer, J., Stone, E.J., Krebs-Kanzow, U., Khon, V., Nisancioglu, K.H., Pfeiffer, M., Zhang, X., Parker, A., Parton, A., Groucutt, H.S., White, T.S., Drake, N.A., Petraglia, M.D., 2015. The greening of Arabia: Multiple opportunities for human occupation of the Arabian Peninsula during the Late Pleistocene inferred from an ensemble of climate model simulations. Quaternary International 382, 181-199.

 

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