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A preliminary 3000-year regional temperature reconstruction for South Africa

Holmgren, K., Tyson, P.D., Moberg, A. and Svanered, O. 2001; South African Journal of Science 97: 49-51


A preliminary 3000-year palaeotemperature series is presented for South Africa. The series has been derived using the correlation in recent times between the colour variation in annual growth layers of a stalagmite taken from a cave in the Makapansgat Valley and an area-averaged regional annual maximum temperature series. A statistical transfer function was applied to the variation in colour banding in the stalagmite over the last 3000 years. The time periods from AD 1500 to 1800, and from 800-200 BC are shown to have been the coolest episodes in the last three millennia, with temperatures up to 1°C lower than at present. Medieval warming with a maximum at around AD 1500 and a pronounced warm episode around 100 BC were prominent features of the record.