What is it about?

The paper reviews published case studies that have reconstructed Medieval temperatures in Africa and Arabia. Based on this comprehensive dat mosaic, temperature changes have been mapped in the region. Most of the continental areas got warmer during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), 1000-1200 AD. Only the southern Levant and upwelling zones around Afroarabia cooled, due to a change in wind systems.

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Why is it important?

We are living in a world with a changing climate. In order to better understand today's changes, we need to have good knowledge of pre-industrial natural climate change. What was the range of pre-industrial natural temperature fluctuations? Have we already exceeded the natural limits? What regional warming/cooling patterns occurred and what are likely drivers? Ultimately, a detailed set of maps with discrete time intervals is needed that thoroughly capture climate change of the past millennia on a global basis. This paper looks at the Medieval times in Africa and Arabia. Climate models need this type of information for calibration, to make sure that climate predictions derived from these models are robust and include all relevant natural and anthropogenic climate drivers.


Late Holocene palaeoclimate research has made tremendous progress over the past two decades. We knew quite little until 2000. Since then, researchers have gone out to all corners of the world to collect new, high quality data. Now the time has come to visualize this data treasure and put the great number of mosaic pieces together. First climate patterns emerge, yet more studies are needed to clarify the picture. Future research may now systematically target the remaining 'White Space' on the palaeoclimatological maps. This is an exciting journey, in a way comparable to the Age of the Explorers some centuries ago. We are again exploring unknown territories, this time however not mapping coastlines, but focusing on the historical climatic variations.

Sebastian Luening
Institute for Hydrography, Geoecology and Climate Sciences

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Warming and Cooling: The Medieval Climate Anomaly in Africa and Arabia, Paleoceanography, November 2017, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/2017pa003237.
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