Geographia Polonica (2011) vol. 84, iss. Special Issue Part 1

Extreme floods around AD 1700 in the northern Namib Desert, Namibia, and in the Orange River catchment, South Africa - Were they forced by a decrease of solar irradiance during the Little Ice Age?

Klaus Heine, Jörg Völkel

Geographia Polonica (2011) vol. 84, iss. Special Issue Part 1, pp. 61-80 | Full text


We review recent advances in the study of palaeofloods and in the reconstructions of climatefeatures from sedimentary archives in the Namib Desert. Global environments are knownto have varied over the past millennia, but the spatial patterns of these variations have remainedpoorly understood. We used palaeoflood sediments to reconstruct rainfall patterns over the last500 years (Little Ice Age). During the Little Ice Age, the northern Namib Desert and the OrangeRiver catchment experienced palaeofloods that exceeded those of the millennium prior and ofthe two centuries since. During the last two centuries, floods remained well below the Little IceAge maximum levels. The patterns of hydrological changes imply dynamic responses of rainfallto solar irradiance forcing changes involving the Benguela El Niño oscillation.

Keywords: palaeofloods, slackwater deposits, tropical-temperate-trough, solar irradiance, Little Ice Age, Namib Desert

Klaus Heine, Institute of Geography, University, D-93040 Regensburg, Germany
Jörg Völkel, Technische Universität München, Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Research Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 2, D-85350 Freising, Germany