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Title: Extent, timing and paleoclimatic significance of glaciation in the High Atlas, Morocco
Authors: Hughes, PD
Fenton, C
Fink, D
Schnabel, C
Rother, H
Keywords: Morocco
Isotope ratio
Climate models
Beryllium 10
Issue Date: 21-Jul-2011
Publisher: 18th INQUA Congress
Citation: Hughes, P., Fenton, C., Fink, D., Schnabel, C., Rother, H. (2011). Extent, timing and palaeoclimatic significance of glaciation in the High Atlas, Morocco. 18th International Union for Quaternary Research Congress, 21th-27th July 2011, Berne Switzerland.
Abstract: Glacial geomorphological mapping, 10Be terrestrial cosmogenic isotope analyses and palaeoglacier-climate modelling in the highest peaks of the Atlas Mountains, Morocco (31.1°N, 7.9°W), provides new and novel data toward understanding the history and evolution of the largest desert region on Earth. The Atlas Mountains display evidence of extensive and multiple Pleistocene glaciations. The largest ice field and valley glaciers formed in the Toubkal massif. Here, the oldest moraines have yielded 10Be ages scattered in the range 74-31 ka. A later phase of glaciation is dated to c. 24 ka. Moraines belonging to a third phase of glaciation has yielded a series of very close exposure ages (within error) at around 12 ka, and falling within the Younger Dryas (12.9-11.7 ka). The glacial record of the High Atlas effectively reflects moisture supply to the north-western Sahara Desert and can provide an indication of shifts between arid and pluvial conditions. The low altitude of the glaciations in all three glacial episodes indicate that climate was not only significantly cooler than today, but also very much wetter. The new evidence on the extent, timing and palaeoclimatic significance of glaciations in this region has major implications for understanding moisture transfer between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara Desert during Pleistocene cold stages. The findings are highly significant for understanding atmospheric circulation during pluvial phases recorded in the Sahara, such as during the African Humid Period at the Pleistocene/Holocene transition (15 to 6 ka). Glacier advance in the High Atlas during this interval provides insight into the seasonal distribution of precipitation and provides valuable insight into the respective roles of moisture supply from the North Atlantic depressions and the West African Monsoon. This in turn then has important bearing on the strengths of meridional vs. zonal circulation at mid-latitudes during pluvial phases. Copyright (c) 2011 INQUA 18
Gov't Doc #: 3234
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