- Soil moisture fluctuations recorded in Saharan dust deposits on Lanzarote (CanaryIslands) over the last 180 ka (2010)
- Aeolian sediments trapped in volcanically dammed valleys on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, were investigated in order to reveal environmental changes over the last 180 ka. Clay content and frequency dependent magnetic susceptibility were used as proxies for pedogenesis and palaeo-soil moisture. During the last 180 ka, these proxies showed a general pattern of enhanced soil moisture during glacials and stadials and more arid conditions during interglacials and interstadials. Comparisons of these results with proxies from regional palaeoclimate studies identified a positive correlation with proxies of trade wind strength off northwest Africa and inverse correlations with both sea surface temperatures in the northeast Atlantic and the extent of Mediterranean vegetation. Possible causes for the observed pattern include a glacial enhancement of precipitation from westerly cyclones, a change in relative humidity due to fluctuating air temperatures and an occasional influence of the African summer monsoon. Although it is not yet possible to clearly differentiate among these factors, it is clear that the first two factors must have been primarily dominant. These results represent the first quasi-continuous terrestrial data testifying to environmental changes in the northwest African coastal area for the last 180 ka and complement the abundant data derived from marine cores of the region. High latitude dynamics had a major influence in this area and were intermediated by North Atlantic sea surface temperatures. A possible negative correlation can also be observed with the orbital obliquity cycle with a 10 ka time lag, which is similar to the lag recorded from North Atlantic sea surface temperatures.