Once-Green Sahara Turned to Dust Quickly
Change occurred 5K years ago, over a century or two
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2013 11:30 AM CDT
The Sahara looked much different about 5,000 years ago.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – You wouldn't know it from looking around today, but the Sahara desert was once a lush, green wonderland of lakes, vegetation, and animals. And then poof, relatively speaking, it turned into the desert we know today. Researchers studying 30,000 years of dust sediment off the coast of Africa say the change occurred 5,000 years ago across North Africa over the course of one or two centuries, reports MIT News.

Prior to the change, which LiveScience calls "one of the planet's most dramatic climate shifts," the region had been green for about 6,000 years in what's known as the African Humid Period. “Our results point to surprisingly large changes in how much dust is coming out of Africa,” says an MIT scientist. “This gives us a baseline for looking further back in time, to interpret how big past climate swings were."

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Showing 3 of 35 comments
Libris_Fidelis
Apr 11, 2013 7:38 PM CDT
! !
right2dave
Apr 8, 2013 8:58 AM CDT
Global warming?
hog_one
Apr 7, 2013 5:40 AM CDT
I was flipping channels last night and came upon a program that was talking about this very subject. I think it was on NatGeo. They were talking about some clay tablets that were found dealing with what was observed in the night sky. It was talking about a 'firey ball' of light. They took the observations that were spoken about and put them into a computer and lined up the planets and stars as noted. They came up with a date of around 3212BC, based on todays calander. Then they crossed checked the date with ice cores they had from around the world. The findings matched pretty close and the conclusion was that an event like Tungusta (sic) happened, but only much larger. They said that based upon the findings, this event helped speed up the climate change that was taking place. So, add 2000 years to the above date and you get a date of around 5000 years ago. Just thought that it was a little tie-in with this story.