Sahara Desert Dust May Have Caused Climate Change 11,000 Years Ago
Scientists have discovered that the transport of Sahara Desert dust in the atmosphere may have crucially affected the changes in climate for thousands of years. The presence of dust in air and settling into oceans create temperature changes that may be significant to the behavior of climate.
Dust in the air may be able to reduce the concentration of solar radiation, allowing heat to be dispersed in larger areas. This may change the temperature of oceans or ocean surfaces by a fraction of a degree. The less dust in the air, the higher the temperature of ocean surfaces become. Such increase in temperature creates variations in humidity and air pressure, leading to higher possibilities of monsoons and weather disturbances.
According to the study, the weight and size of dust from deserts allow them to be carried in the atmosphere for a significant amount of time before they settle thousands of kilometers away from their origins. They have discovered from soil samples from oceans that a lot of oceanic soils such as the Bahamas have originated from the Sahara Desert from Northern Africa. This means that the transport of dust from the Sahara Desert may have caused variations in climate change all over the world.
Studies suggest that more than 11,000 years ago, there was a huge reduction of dust that traveled from the Sahara into the atmosphere. From artifacts collected from uninhabitable places of the Sahara, it seems as though the desert was a different biome and experienced more moisture at the time. This was also the time when simulations of the climate have shown more evidence of monsoons and weather disturbances.
Now, more than thousands of years later we are again experiencing a decreased amount of Sahara Desert Dust in the atmosphere. Scientists are now on the road to discovery whether the significant climate changes being experienced today are caused by this phenomenon.