Coral skeletons act as archive of desert conditions from Little Ice Age

phys.org | 9/19/2018 | Staff
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The Sahara and Arabian deserts did not cool as much as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere during the Little Ice Age, but in fact were drier 200 years ago than they are today, according to a new study.

The Little Ice Age was a cool period from around 1450 to 1850. During this time, Europe was very cool and even experienced a "year without a summer" in 1816 due to the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, a volcano in Indonesia. Scientists knew Europe experienced significant cooling during the Little Ice Age because of historical data but were unsure how other parts of the world were affected, such as the Sahara and Arabian deserts.

Humans - Weather - Stations - Globe - Instruments

Humans began installing weather stations around the globe around 1850, which means there were no instruments for scientists to use to analyze climate prior to that time. In the desert, natural archives, like trees that are used to detect historical climate changes, were not available.

In a new study, researchers analyzed a coral from the Red Sea, which lies between the Sahara and Arabian deserts, to reconstruct temperatures and aridity in the two deserts from 1750 to 1850.

Corals - Archive - Surface - Ocean - Documents

Corals offer a natural archive in the surface ocean that documents climate variability, said Thomas Felis, a marine geologist at MARUM, the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen, Germany, and lead author of the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The new study finds the Sahara and Arabian deserts did not cool as much as Europe during this period and the deserts were drier than they are today.

Climate - Variability - Past - Projections - Climate

Understanding natural climate variability in the past may improve projections of future climate change, especially in the subtropics, according to the study's authors. Past climate information can give insight into responses of the climate system...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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