Reports

Wadi Howar: Paleoclimatic Evidence from an Extinct River System in the Southeastern Sahara

Science  17 Jul 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4812, pp. 298-300
DOI: 10.1126/science.237.4812.298

Abstract

Field research into the climatic history and shifting of the East Saharan desert has furnished evidence that during Quaternary time the present extremely arid western part of Upper Nubia (northern Sudan)was temporarily linked to the Nile by way of a hitherto unknown 400 kilometer long tributary. From about 9500 to 4500 years ago, lower Wadi Howar flowed through an environment characterized by numerous ground water outlets and freshwater lakes. Savanna fauna and cattle-herders occupied this region, which today receives at most 25 millimeters of rainfall per year. At that period the southern edge of the eastern Sahara was some 500 kilometers further north than today and ground water resources were recharged for the last time.