A Review of the Late Pleistocene-Holocene Climatic and Paleoecological Records in Tanzania

Edikafubeni Makoba, Alfred N. N. Muzuka


Climate change is poorly addressed in the developing countries particularly in tropical East Africa such as Tanzania. This paper aimed to reconstruct the late Pleistocene to Holocene Tanzanian climate change using proxies from terrestrial and marine environment. Although data are limited, the inferred major events were found to have a link with global events. In late Pleistocene, during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), Tanzania experienced aridity as the other areas in the tropics. This was followed by the humid high precipitation period, highly pronounced between 9-6 ka.  Proxies indicate that the humid period was interrupted by a brief dry Younger Dryas (YD) around 13.0-11.5 ka and a cool dry event at 8.2 ka. Other remarkable events are the cool event in the mid Holocene at 5.2 ka and the global dry event at 4.0 ka. There is a general decrease in precipitation from 5 ka to present with the aridity being pronounced between 3-2 ka and 1.2-0.5 ka. Despite of relatively low precipitation in Late Holocene, wet conditions are inferred between 1.7-1.2 ka (being interrupted by remarkable episodes of aridity) and the late periods of the 19th and 20th centuries. The 20th century which is marked by increased temperature is likely to cause changes in hydrological circle leading to the increase in heavy rainfall and drought periods. Through this study, it is revealed that works are limited and concentrated in some specific areas within the country which exhibit different climatic condition. As a result, some proxies particularly from Eastern Arc Mountains show contradicting records and, in some places, interpretation is partial due to extrapolation of the proxies which are not widely distributed within a specific climate zone.


Climate change; Paleoecology; Holocene; Proxies; Pleistocene; Tanzania.

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