Northern Hemisphere control of deglacial vegetation changes in the Rufiji uplands (Tanzania)
Climate of the Past Discussions
In tropical Eastern Africa, vegetation distribution is largely controlled by regional hydrology which has varied over the past 20 000 years. Therefore, accurate reconstructions of past vegetation and hydrological changes are crucial to better understand climate variability in the tropical Eastern African region. Through high-resolution pollen records from a marine sediment core recovered offshore the Rufiji River, our data show significant shifts in pollen assemblages during the last
... n identifying, through respective changes in both upland and lowland vegetation, specific responses of plant communities to atmospheric (precipitation) and coastal (coastal dynamics/sea level changes) alterations. Specifically, an interval of maximum pollen representation of dry and open vegetation occurred during the Northern Hemisphere cold Heinrich event 1 (H1) suggesting the expansion of drier upland vegetation under arid conditions. This dry spell is followed by an interval in which forest and humid woodland expanded, indicating a hydrologic shift towards more humid conditions. Droughts during H1 and the return to humid conditions around ~14.8 kyr BP in the uplands are primarily attributed to latitudinal shifts of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) driven by high-latitude Northern Hemisphere climatic fluctuations. Additionally, our results show that the lowland vegetation, consisting of a well developed salt marshes and mangroves in a successional pattern typical for vegetation occurring in intertidal habitats, has responded mainly to local coastal dynamics related to marine inundation frequencies and soil salinity in the Rufiji Delta as well as the local moisture availability. Lowland vegetation shows a substantial expansion of mangrove trees after ~14.8 kyr BP suggesting also an increased moisture availability and river runoff in the coastal area. The results of this study highlight the de-coupled climatic and environmental processes to which the vegetation in the uplands and the Rufiji Delta has responded during the last deglaciation.