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Was the Sahara desert created by humans ?


Posted on Wednesday, 15 March, 2017 | Comment icon 6 comments

Did human activities create the Sahara ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5 Luca Galuzzi (galuzzi.it)
New research has suggested that humans may have been responsible for the formation of the Sahara.
For years it had been believed that the desertification of the region, which began 10,000 years ago, was the result of a shift in Earth's orbit coupled with changes in regional vegetation patterns.

Now though, a team of researchers believe that there may have been more to it than that.

David Wright of Seoul National University and colleagues have put forward the idea that the movements of early pastoral communities in the Nile Valley may have been responsible.

In particular, the introduction of livestock around 8,000 years ago would have suppressed the growth of trees and larger bushes, thus making the surface more exposed and reflective.

Over time, this would have diminished the impact of the seasonal monsoons, creating even more exposed desert and resulting in a runaway desertification effect over a long period of time.

"In East Asia there are long established theories of how Neolithic populations changed the landscape so profoundly that monsoons stopped penetrating so far inland," said Wright.

Source: UPI.com | Comments (6)

Tags: Sahara

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Tatetopa on 15 March, 2017, 2:28
Whoa. That puts global warming in perspective.  Nothing new under the sun.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Hammerclaw on 15 March, 2017, 5:21
No. The advance and subsequent retreat of the ice sheets of the glacier periods cause alternate wet and dry periods in the Sahara history, The ice sheets were so tall they had the effect on weather patterns like mountains do, and pushed the rain belts further south. When the ice retreated, the rain belts shifted North, leaving the Sahara to dry out.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Doug1o29 on 15 March, 2017, 20:28
It's likely a combination of causes.  It took 11,000 years to go from the Last Glacial Maximum to the dry Sahara that developed during the Altithermal.  Or another way to look at it:  it took 3500 years to go from the end of the Younger Dryas to the warmest conditions of the Altithermal.  While loss of vegetation due to livestock grazing may have speeded up the process of creating the desert, natural processes had plenty of time to do it on their own. North America underwent a similar process.  Look up Lake Lahontan and Lake Bonneville.  They were gigantic lakes in Utah and Nevada that were cr... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by DieChecker on 15 March, 2017, 21:09
What I've read is that the continued using of the edges of the Sahara for livestock has doubled the size of the desert in just a thousand years. Continued overgrazing keeps the desert expanding.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Hammerclaw on 15 March, 2017, 22:37
No doubt a contributing factor in limited areas where grazing is possible. The Ice sheet effect was global and impacted the southern regions of North America. Our desert areas flourished as did the flora and megafauna of our vast coastal plains, which stretched to the horizon, now long submerged.      https://youtu.be/j5_DaRqYuT4                              
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer on 16 March, 2017, 18:59
Yep we humans are getting blamed for everything.  I'm sure science with come up with the theory that over population is causing the shift in the Earth's axis, shift in the magnetic fields and slight rotational speed decrease. I'm also sure we are the cause of the current plight of the molten river of iron that was posted here a few weeks ago.  To save the Earth we must all leave NOW!  (Sorry, one of those days!) To keep the desert from growing the animals should be fed from all the extra grain that can be grown.  The Oil Sheiks can afford to buy the grain to improve the quality of life for the... [More]


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