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Paleoclimatic Estimates From Water And Energy Budgets Of East African Lakes

S. Hastenrath, J. Kutzbach
Published 1983 · Geology

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Abstract The Turkana, Nakuru-Elmenteita, and Naivasha basins in the Rift Valley of East Africa experienced high water levels during the period of 10,000–7000 yr B.P. Analyses of the modern hydrologic and energy budgets for these basins, along with that of Lake Victoria, were used to infer the amount of precipitation that would have been required to maintain the enlarged paleolakes of the early Holocene. Precipitation must have been at least 150–300 mm/yr (15 to 35%) above the modern average. The precipitation estimates were fairly consistent among the various basins, but no quantitative estimate was made for the additional precipitation required to account for overflow from the Rift Valley lake basins. Discharge from the Lake Victoria basin around 1880 A.D. was considerably above the more recent average, and the increased discharge into the White Nile for that period might have been similar to that of the early Holocene. A sensitivity analysis showed that temperature changes were probably not too important for changing the hydrologic-energy budget; changes of albedo, Bowen ratio, and cloudiness were likely to have been of greater importance.
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