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The greening of Arabia: multiple opportunities for human occupation of the Arabian peninsula during the Late Pleistocene inferred from an ensemble of climate model simulations

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Jennings, R. P., Singarayer, J., Stone, E. J., Krebs-Kanzow, U., Khon, V., Nisancioglu, K. H., Pfeiffer, M., Zhang, X., Parker, A., Parton, A., Groucutt, H. S., White, T. S., Drake, N. A. and Petraglia, M. D. (2015) The greening of Arabia: multiple opportunities for human occupation of the Arabian peninsula during the Late Pleistocene inferred from an ensemble of climate model simulations. Quaternary International, 382. pp. 181-199. ISSN 1040-6182

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.01.006

Abstract/Summary

Climate models are potentially useful tools for addressing human dispersals and demographic change. The Arabian Peninsula is becoming increasingly significant in the story of human dispersals out of Africa during the Late Pleistocene. Although characterised largely by arid environments today, emerging climate records indicate that the peninsula was wetter many times in the past, suggesting that the region may have been inhabited considerably more than hitherto thought. Explaining the origins and spatial distribution of increased rainfall is challenging because palaeoenvironmental research in the region is in an early developmental stage. We address environmental oscillations by assembling and analysing an ensemble of five global climate models (CCSM3, COSMOS, HadCM3, KCM, and NorESM). We focus on precipitation, as the variable is key for the development of lakes, rivers and savannas. The climate models generated here were compared with published palaeoenvironmental data such as palaeolakes, speleothems and alluvial fan records as a means of validation. All five models showed, to varying degrees, that the Arabia Peninsula was significantly wetter than today during the Last Interglacial (130 ka and 126/125 ka timeslices), and that the main source of increased rainfall was from the North African summer monsoon rather than the Indian Ocean monsoon or from Mediterranean climate patterns. Where available, 104 ka (MIS 5c), 56 ka (early MIS 3) and 21 ka (LGM) timeslices showed rainfall was present but not as extensive as during the Last Interglacial. The results favour the hypothesis that humans potentially moved out of Africa and into Arabia on multiple occasions during pluvial phases of the Late Pleistocene.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Past Climate Change
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:39673
Publisher:Elsevier

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