Green Sahara is a phenomenon that scientists try now to explain. Using a newly developed method, they aim to shed light on one of the most intriguing things on Earth.
Sahara as we know it has not always been covered by only sand and rocks. Thousand of years ago, the region was heavily populated, and the land was green with vegetation. But what happened with all those green patches? Scientists might finally have an answer.
Here is what you need to know.
The Death of Green Sahara
About 14,500 to 5,000 years ago, massive regions of North Africa were very populated. The desert we all know today was a thriving green land with vegetation.
Enough evidence lies on various sites with rock paintings, unveiling not only animals but even people swimming in the “Cave of Swimmers.” This era is known as the Green Sahara or the African Humid Period. How did all of these die?
New study insights
Recently, researchers tried to understand better Green Sahara and why it is no longer present. For this, they examined leaf waxes and pollen collected from a sediment core. The origin of the core is from Lake Tislit in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
Next, they reconstructed the vegetation cover and how much it rained in the past. Fossil particles of plants, including refractory plant molecules and pollen, are usually found in lakes. Such a thing is also essential to figure out the types of climate conditions and vegetation in the past.
Dr Enno Schefuß of MARUM was part of the team and released a statement. He explained:
“[…] while the leaf waxes indicate increased rainfall during the African Humid Period, the pollen explicitly reveal that the vegetation was Mediterranean…”
Researchers suggest that the previous reconstructions are a bit wrong. Thanks to the new findings, we have a new method of explaining Green Sahara. There’s also an improvement in the predictions for future vegetation and climate trends in the area.