1MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Germany
2Université de Bordeaux 1, CNRS, UMR 5805 EPOC, France
3NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Marine Organic Biogeochemistry, Texel, The Netherlands
*now at: Department of Geoscience, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01002, USA
Abstract. Glacial-interglacial fluctuations in the vegetation of South Africa might elucidate the climate system at the edge of the tropics between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. However, vegetation records covering a full glacial cycle have only been published from the eastern South Atlantic. We present a pollen record of the marine core MD96-2048 retrieved by the Marion Dufresne from the Indian Ocean ∼120 km south of the Limpopo River mouth. The sedimentation at the site is slow and continuous. The upper 6 m (spanning the past 342 Ka) have been analysed for pollen and spores at millennial resolution. The terrestrial pollen assemblages indicate that during interglacials, the vegetation of eastern South Africa and southern Mozambique largely consisted of evergreen and deciduous forests. During glacials open mountainous scrubland dominated. Montane forest with Podocarpus extended during humid periods was favoured by strong local insolation. Correlation with the sea surface temperature record of the same core indicates that the extension of mountainous scrubland primarily depends on sea surface temperatures of the Agulhas Current. Our record corroborates terrestrial evidence of the extension of open mountainous scrubland (including fynbos-like species of the high-altitude Grassland biome) for the last glacial as well as for other glacial periods of the past 300 Ka.