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Near East - History of Climate- / Environment

There is increasing observational evidence of significant changes in regional hydroclimatic patterns, which strongly affect human societies in many parts of the world. The relationship between such changes and large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns associated with oscillatory modes such as the North Atlantic Oscillation/Arctic Oscillation and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, is a central topic in ongoing research efforts. Located within the transition zone between the extra-tropical atmospheric circulation and the Afro-Indian monsoonal systems, the Near East region encompasses a unique set of contrasting environments, where changes in hydrological regimes are probably the most prominent expressions of climate variability and atmospheric teleconnection patterns. Furthermore, past hydroclimatic changes in this region had a profound impact on prehistoric and early historic cultural evolution of mankind. Our studies focus on laminated sediments, with close to annual resolution, such as the varved sediments from the Dead Sea and Lake Kinneret, sediments from Lake Birkat Ram, as well as on marine sediments from the Gulf of Aqaba and the northern Red Sea.

Lokated southeast of Mt. Hermon (Golan Heights) Lake Birkat Ram is an excellent archive for the analysis of climate, vegetation, sedimentology and settlement history in the Near East.

Laminated sediments from the Dead Sea are unique archives with the potential for reconstructing paleoclimate, paleoseismicity and paleomagnetism in the Near East during the Holocene.

The fresh water Lake Kinneret is located in the northern part of the Jordan Valley. Last glacial laminated sediments were recovered from this lake and investigated for its limnological and sedimentological evolution in relation to the climatic history of the region.

During a low-stand of Lake Kinneret, at the shore near Ohalo, an archeological site from pre-historic times became visible.

With a view to studying short term climate variability in the eastern Mediterranean, we have carried out detailed investigations on the varved sediments comprising the Upper Member of Lisan Formation that was deposited between ~17.7-26.2 cal ka in Lake Lisan, the late glacial precurser of the Dead Sea.

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