The deep-sea cores M 16415-2 and M 16416-2 at about 9°N off Sierra Leone were analysed palynologically for the time interval 140,000–70,000 yr B.P. Results were presented in absolute (pollen concentration and pollen influx) and relative diagrams (pollen percentage). In a previous study it was evidenced that in northwest Africa pollen is mainly transported to the Atlantic by wind, so that the efficiency of aeolian pollen transport (pollen flux) could be used to evaluate changes in the intensity of the northeast trade winds.The glacial episodes (represented by the oxygen isotope stages 6 and 4) are characterized by strong northeast trade winds, whereas the last interglacial (stage 5) is characterized by weak trace winds. The pollen influx diagram shows that the intensity of the trade winds increased slightly during the relatively cool intervals of stage 5 (viz. 5.4 and 5.2).Tropical forest had maximally expanded around 124,000 yr B.P. (stage 5.5), around 98,000 yr B.P. (transition of stage 5.3 to 5.2), and around 70,000 yr B.P. (first part of stage 4): an increasing delay of the response of tropical forest to global intervals with maximum temperature is apparent during the last interglacial. As tropical forests need continuous humidity, the record of tropical forest monitors changes in climatic humidity south of the Sahara.During the last interglacial, the southern boundary of the Sahara shifted only little: expansions and contractions of the tropical forest area are correlated with contra-oscillations of the grass-dominated savanna zone. Great latitudinal shifts of the desert-savanna boundary, on the contrary, occurred during the penultimate glacial-interglacial transition (around 128,000 yr B.P.) to the north, and during the last interglacial-glacial transition (around 65,000 yr B.P.) to the south.
Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 08/1988; 66(3-4):173-213. DOI:10.1016/0031-0182(88)90199-X