EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Paleo-ENSO influence on African environmentsand early modern humans

Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr1,2, William D. Gosling3, Ralf Vogelsang4, André Bahr2, Eleanor M. L. Scerri4,5,6, Asfawossen Asrat7,8, Andrew S. Cohen9, Walter Düsing1, Verena Foerster10, Henry F. Lamb11,12, Mark A. Maslin13,14, Helen M. Roberts11, Frank Schäbitz10, and Martin H. Trauth1
Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr et al.
  • 1University of Potsdam, Institute of Geosciences, Potsdam-Golm, Germany (
  • 2Heidelberg University, Institute of Earth Sciences, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 3University of Amsterdam, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 4University of Cologne, Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, Cologne, Germany
  • 5Max Planck Institute for the Science in Human History, Pan-African Evolution Research Group, Jena, Germany
  • 6University of Malta, Department of Classics and Archaeology, Msida, Malta
  • 7Addis Ababa University, School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 8Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Department of Mining and Geological Engineering, Palapye, Botswana
  • 9University of Arizona, Department of Geosciences, Tucson, USA
  • 10University of Cologne, Institute of Geography Education, Cologne, Germany
  • 11Aberystwyth University, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom
  • 12Trinity College Dublin, Department of Botany, Dublin, Ireland
  • 13University College London, Department of Geography, London, United Kingdom
  • 14University of Copenhagen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

In this study, we synthesize terrestrial and marine proxy records, spanning the past 620,000 years, to decipher pan-African climate variability and its drivers and potential linkages to hominin evolution. We find a tight correlation between moisture availability across Africa to El Niño Southern Ocean oscillation (ENSO) variability, a manifestation of the Walker Circulation, that was most likely driven by changes in Earth’s eccentricity. Our results demonstrate that low-latitude insolation was a prominent driver of pan-African climate change during the Middle to Late Pleistocene. We argue that these low-latitude climate processes governed the dispersion and evolution of vegetation as well as mammals in eastern and western Africa by increasing resource-rich and stable ecotonal settings thought to have been important to early modern humans.

How to cite: Kaboth-Bahr, S., Gosling, W. D., Vogelsang, R., Bahr, A., Scerri, E. M. L., Asrat, A., Cohen, A. S., Düsing, W., Foerster, V., Lamb, H. F., Maslin, M. A., Roberts, H. M., Schäbitz, F., and Trauth, M. H.: Paleo-ENSO influence on African environmentsand early modern humans, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2038,, 2022.


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