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R A I N - Project 3

Organic Proxies - Indicators of Dynamics in Hydrology and Vegetation

The main objective of this subproject is to unravel the millennial to multi-decadal forcing of hydrologic changes and vegetation dynamics at the western margin of South Africa. The interplay of continental climate with oceanic temperature changes, effects of human land-use and feedbacks on soil erosion will be studied.

We investigate high-resolution coastal-marine sediment cores (already taken) and terrestrial sedimentary archives by palynology and lipid biomarker analyses to detect changes in contributing biomes (pollen), photosynthetic plant types (stable carbon isotopes of plant waxes) and continental hydrology (Deuterium of plant waxes). These results will be supplemented by estimates of soil organic matter input (BIT index), air temperature (MBT index) and soil pH (CBT index) estimates. To unravel land-ocean climate linkages ocean temperature changes will be estimated by alkenone and TEX86 analyses.

The investigations on marine material will be paralleled by organic geochemical and palynological studies of a terrestrial sediment core to be recovered in Verloren Vlei Project 1). The studies will provide a detailed continental-marine comparison of climate signals using the same proxy parameters and extend the temporal coverage of paleoenvironmental reconstruction in the southern winter rainfall zone. To evaluate the detected Holocene changes against glacial-interglacial changes, longer paleo-environmental records up to about 25 kyrs BP will be established from a sediment core already taken further offshore.