Skip to main content Accessibility help

Paleoclimatic Estimates from Water and Energy Budgets of East African Lakes

  • Stefan Hastenrath (a1) and John E. Kutzbach (a1)


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.



Hide All
Atkinson, G., Sadler, J.C.. 1970. Mean Cloudiness and Gradient-Level Wind Charts over the Tropics. USAF, Air Weather ServiceTechnical Report No. 215.
Barrett, E.C.. 1974. Climatology from Satellites. Methuen, London.
Beadle, L.C.. 1974. The Inland Waters of Tropical Africa. Longmans, London/New York.
Benson, L.V.. 1981. Paleoclimatic significance of lake-level fluctuations in the Lahontan Basin. Quaternary Research 16. 390403.
Bishop, W.W.. 1971. The late-Cenozoic history of East Africa in relation to hominoid evolution. The Late Cenozoic Glacial Ages. Turekian, K.K.. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven. 493528.
Budyko, M.I.. 1974. International Geophysics Series Vol. 18. Academic Press, New York. “Climate and Life”.
Butzer, K.W.B.. 1971. Recent History of an Ethiopian Delta. University of Chicago, Department of Geography, Chicago. Research Paper No. 136.
Butzer, K.W.B.. 1980. The Holocene lake plain of North Rudolf, East Africa. Physical Geography 1. 2843.
Butzer, K.W., Isaac, G.L., Richardson, J.L., Washbourn-Kamau, C.. 1972. Radiocarbon dating of East African lake levels. Science 175. 10691076.
East African Meteorological Department, . 1970. Mean Annual Rainfall Map of East Africa. Survey of Kenya, Nairobi. (Based on all Available Data in 1966, Scale 1:2,000,000).
East African Meteorological Department, . 1975. Climatological Statistics for East Africa, Part 1: KenyaNairobi.
Flohn, H., Fraedrich, K.. 1966. Tagesperiodische Zirkulation und Niederschlagsverteilung am Victoria-See (Ostafrika). Meteorologische Rundschau 19 6. 157165.
Fraedrich, K.. 1972. A simple climatological model of the dynamics and energetics of the nocturnal circulation at Lake Victoria. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 98. 322335.
Gaudet, J.J., Melack, J.M.. 1981. Major ion chemistry in a tropical African lake basin. Freshwater Biology 11. 309333.
Gaudet, J.J., Melack, J.M.. 1972. Major ion chemistry in a tropical African lake basin. Climates of Africa. Griffiths, J.F. World Survey of Climatology Vol. 10. Elsevier, Amsterdam/London/New York.
Jackson, S.P.. 1961. Climatological Atlas of Africa. Government Printer, Pretoria.
Kendall, R.L.. 1969. An ecological history of the Lake Victoria basin. Ecological Monographs 39. 121176.
Kite, G.W.. 1981. Recent changes in level of Lake Victoria. Hydrological Sciences Bulletin 26. 233243.
Kutzbach, J.E.. 1980. Estimates of past climate at paleolake Chad, North Africa, based on a hydrological and energy balance model. Quaternary Research 14. 210223.
Kutzbach, J.E.. 1981. Monsoon climate of early Holocene: Climate experiment using the Earth's orbital parameters for 9000 years ago. Science 214. 5961.
Kutzbach, J.E., Otto-Bliesner, B.L.. 1982. The sensitivity of the African-Asian monsoonal climate to orbital parameter changes for 9000 yr B.P. in a low-resolution general circulation model. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 39. 11771188.
Lamb, H.H.. 1966. Climate in the 1960s. Changes in the world's wind circulation reflected in prevailing temperatures, rainfall patterns and the level of African lakes. Geographical Journal 132. 183213.
Leopold, L.B.. 1951. Pleistocene climate in New Mexico. American Journal of Science 249. 152168.
Lettau, H.H.. 1969. Evapotranspiration climatonomy 1. A new approach to numerical prediction of monthly evapotranspiration, runoff and soil moisture storage. Monthly Weather Review 97. 691699.
Livingtone, D.A.. 1980. Environmental changes in the Nile headwaters. The Sahara and the Nile. Williams, M.A.J., Faure, H.. Balkema, Rotterdam. 339359.
Melack, J.M., Kilham, P.. 1974. Photosynthetic rates of phytoplankton in East African alkaline, saline lakes. Limnology and Oceanography 19. 743755.
Morth, H.T.. 1967. Investigation into the meteorological aspects of the variations in the level of Lake Victoria. East African Meteorological Department, Memoirs 4 2. 123.
Nilsson, E.. 1931. Quaternary glaciations and pluvial lakes in British East Africa. Geografiska Annaler 13. 249349.
NOAA-USAF, . 1971. Global Atlas of Relative Cloud Cover 1967–1970 164237 Washington, D.C..
Priestley, C.H.B., Taylor, R.J.. 1972. On the assessment of surface heat flux and evaporation using large-scale parameters. Monthly Weather Review 100. 8192.
Ravenstein, E.G.. 1901. The lake-level of the Victoria Nyanza. Geographical Journal 18. 403406.
Richardson, J.L., Richardson, A.E.. 1972. History of an African rift lake and its climatic implications. Ecological Monographs 42. 499536.
Rockwood, A.A., Cox, S.K.. 1978. Satellite inferred surface albedo over Northwestern Africa. Journal of the Atmospheric Science 35. 513522.
Sellers, W.O.. 1965. Physical Climatology. Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago.
Street, F.A.. 1979. Late Quaternary precipitation estimates for the Ziway-Shala Basin, Southern Ethiopia. Palaeoecology of Africa 11. 135143.
Street, F.A., Grove, A.T.. 1979. Global maps of lake-level fluctuations since 30,000 yr B.P.. Quaternary Research 10. 83118.
Swain, A., Kutzbach, J., Hastenrath, S.. 1983. Monsoon climate of Rajasthan, India, for the Holocene: Estimates of precipitation based on pollen and lake-levels. Quaternary Research 19. 117.
Washbourn-Kamau, C.K.. 1971. Late Quaternary lakes in the Nakuru-Elemeteita basin, Kenya. Geographical Journal 137. 522535.
World Meteorological Organization-United Nations Development Programme, . 1974. Hydrometeorological Survey of the Catchments of Lakes Victoria, Kyoga and Albert Vols. 1–4RAF 66-025, Technical Report 1, Geneva.

Paleoclimatic Estimates from Water and Energy Budgets of East African Lakes

  • Stefan Hastenrath (a1) and John E. Kutzbach (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed