Secrets of Sahara: when the desert was a green forest

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(ORDO NEWS) — Just a few thousand years ago, the famous Sahara was not endless sand dunes and rocky plateaus, but green forests and lush savannas. This surprising discovery is the result of a new study that reveals the secrets of the cyclical changes in the nature of this vast area of ​​​​North Africa.

The last time the Sahara turned green was between 15,000 and 5,000 years ago. The study confirms that this was not a random phenomenon, but part of a remarkable cyclical transformation that transforms the desert into a green paradise approximately every 21,000 years.

“The cyclical transformation of the Sahara Desert into savanna and forest ecosystems is one of the most astonishing environmental changes on the planet,” said lead study author and climate scientist Edward Armstrong of the Universities of Helsinki and Bristol.

Scientists have used a new climate model to better understand the “North African wet periods” over the past 800,000 years. Their study confirmed the hypothesis that periodic wet phases in the Sahara are caused by changes in the Earth‘s orbit around the Sun.

A newly developed climate model suggests that this cycle is influenced by distant high-latitude ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. Wet periods did not occur during ice ages, when much of the Earth’s high latitudes were covered in ice.

These discoveries are of great importance for our history , especially for the migrations of ancient people from Africa. Depending on the state of the Sahara, it could be both an obstacle and a way.

“The Saharan region is a gateway that controls the dispersal of species both between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as on the continent and beyond,” explains study co-author and Associate Professor Miikka Tallavaara from the University of Helsinki.


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