EGU21-14756, updated on 12 Jan 2022
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Reconstructing 1200 years of hydroclimate variability in the southern margins of the Arabian Desert, inferred from an ancient lake in southern Yemen

Shah Parth1, James M Russell2, and Nicolas Waldmann1
Shah Parth et al.
  • 1Dr. Moses Strauss Department of Marine Geosciences, Charney School of Marine Sciences, University of Haifa, 3498838 Haifa, Israel
  • 2Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, US

There is a major knowledge gap in the past climate oscillation of the Arabian desert, especially during the past two millennium. Reliable continuous continental records that archives at high resolution past environmental variability are useful sentinels of paleoclimate changes. Reliable interpretation from climatic proxies retrieved from lake records are crucial for identifying periodicities and the onset of climatic events and evaluating inter-annual and decadal trends driven by shifting of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). A multiproxy approach is presented for a ~3.3 m composite core from a karst lake located in Gayal el Bazal, southern Yemen. Sedimentary proxies, including grain size distribution and magnetic susceptibility (MS) coupled with geochemistry (XRF), provide an initial picture of centennial-scale environmental changes over the southern Arabian desert. The chronology of the core was anchored by five radiocarbon (14C) dates of terrestrial plants (wood) extracted from sediment samples and indicates the core extends to ~800 AD. Our data provides a snapshot for better understanding the impact of Indian Ocean monsoon variability at an exceptional resolution for a region that lacks sufficient information. Our data indicates that during the ‘Little Ice Age’ (~1500-1800 AD) was arid relative to the warm conditions that prevailed during the Medieval Warming Period (~800 to 1200 AD). The arid phase was marked by high Ca/(Al, Fe, Ti) values, increased inorganic carbon content, decreased MS values, and gypsum precipitation. Furthermore, end-member mixing analyses (EMMA) derived from the grain-size distribution corroborates the production of carbonate sand probably due to an increase in flash floods occurring concurrently with low lake levels under generally dry conditions. Aridity during the Little Ice Age is consistent with evidence and theory for weakened boreal summer monsoons during intervals of northern hemisphere cooling. Overall, this study will provide insight into the monsoon variability and a record for understanding the interactions between northward migrations of the ITCZ and tropical monsoonal dynamics during the late Holocene. In the context of current climate change and increasing population pressure, a deeper understanding of their long-term hydrological variability, this study is highly essential to satisfactorily forecast the sustainability of lakes as a resource in a warming world.

How to cite: Parth, S., Russell, J. M., and Waldmann, N.: Reconstructing 1200 years of hydroclimate variability in the southern margins of the Arabian Desert, inferred from an ancient lake in southern Yemen, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14756,, 2021.


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