Late Quaternary hydrological dynamics in the Middle Kalahari: forcing and feedbacks
Burrough, S. L., Thomas, D. S.G. and Singarayer, J. S. (2009) Late Quaternary hydrological dynamics in the Middle Kalahari: forcing and feedbacks. Earth-Science Reviews, 96 (4). pp. 313-326. ISSN 0012-8252
To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2009.07.001
The Kalahari region has become a major source of Quaternary palaeoenvironmental data derived primarily from the analysis of geomorphological proxies of environmental change. One suite of data, from palaeolacustrine landforms, has recently provided a new record of major hydrological changes in the last 150 ka [Burrough, S. L., Thomas, D. S. G., Bailey, R. M., 2009. Mega-Lake in the Kalahari: A Late Pleistocene record of the Palaeolake Makgadikgadi system. Quaternary Science Reviews, in press.]. Here we present an improved analysis of the drivers and feedbacks of lake level change, utilising information from three main sources: data from the lake system itself, from analyses of other late Quaternary records within the region and from climate modelling. Simulations using the Hadley Centre coupled climate model, HadCM3, suggest that once triggered, the lake body was large enough to potentially affect both local and regional climates. Surface waters and their interactions with the climate are therefore an important component of environmental dynamics during the late Quaternary. Through its capacity to couple Middle Kalahari environments to distant forcing mechanisms and to itself force environmental change, we demonstrate that the existence or absence of megalake Makgadikgadi adds a new level of complexity to the interpretations of environmental proxy records in southern Africa's summer rainfall zone.