Verena Foerster

Verena Foerster
University of Cologne | UOC · Institute of Geography Education

PhD

About

54
Publications
13,615
Reads
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523
Citations
Additional affiliations
December 2016 - present
University of Cologne
Position
  • PostDoc Position
June 2014 - December 2016
Universität Potsdam
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • Analyses and interpretation of geophysical, geochemical and biological data based on sediment cores from the ICDP - HSPDP Chew Bahir deep drilling project. HSPDP field Campaign, Core Correlation, MSCL, XRF, integration of pilot study data.
April 2010 - June 2014
University of Cologne
Position
  • Scientific Researcher, PhD Student
Description
  • Sedimentological, geochemical, and biological analyzes at the Universities of Cologne and Potsdam within the Chew Bahir - ICDP project aswell as participation in the pilot field campaign in Ethiopia
Education
April 2010 - May 2014
University of Cologne
Field of study
  • Physical Geography
April 2004 - May 2009
University of Cologne
Field of study
  • English, Geography, Education

Publications

Publications (54)
Conference Paper
Southern Ethiopia has undergone tremendous climatic changes, from dry and relatively cold during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 25–18 ka) to the African Humid Period (AHP, 15–5 ka), and back to present-day dry conditions. As a contribution to better understand the effects of climate change on vegetation and lakes, we here present a Predictive Veget...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding eastern African paleoclimate is critical for contextualizing early human evolution, adaptation, and dispersal, yet Pleistocene climate of this region and its governing mechanisms remain poorly understood due to the lack of long, orbitally-resolved, terrestrial paleoclimate records. Here we present leaf wax hydrogen isotope records of...
Article
Paleoanthropologists have long speculated about the role of environmental change in shaping human evolution in Africa. In recent years, drill cores of late Neogene lacustrine sedimentary rocks have yielded valuable high-resolution records of climatic and ecosystem change. Eastern African Rift sediments (primarily lake beds) provide an extraordinary...
Article
There is ongoing debate concerning whether or not changes in the eastern African climate, both long-term and short-term, affected the evolution, dispersal, cultural development, and technological innovations of Homo sapiens – and if so, in what way. We present the wavelet spectral analysis results of a ∼620 kyr record of environmental change from t...
Article
Full-text available
During the past 25 ka, southern Ethiopia has undergone tremendous climatic changes, from dry and relatively cold during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 25–18 ka) to the African Humid Period (AHP, 15–5 ka), and back to present-day dry conditions. As a contribution to better understand the effects of climate change on vegetation and lakes, we here pre...
Article
Full-text available
Eastern Africa has been a prime target for scientific drilling because it is rich in key paleoanthropological sites as well as in paleolakes, containing valuable paleoclimatic information on evolutionary time scales. The Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP) explores these paleolakes with the aim of reconstructing environmental cond...
Article
The hypothesis of a connection between the onset (or intensification) of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation, the stepwise increase in African aridity (and climate variability), and an important mammalian (including hominin) species turnover is a textbook example of the initiation of a scientific idea and its propagation in science. It is, however, also...
Article
Despite eastern Africa being a key location in the emergence of Homo sapiens and their subsequent dispersal out of Africa, there is a paucity of long, well-dated climate records in the region to contextualize this history. To address this issue, we dated a ∼293 m long composite sediment core from Chew Bahir, south Ethiopia, using three independent...
Article
Full-text available
Reconstructions of climatic and environmental conditions can contribute to current debates about the factors that influenced early human dispersal within and beyond Africa. Here we analyse a 200,000-year multi-proxy paleoclimate record from Chew Bahir, a tectonic lake basin in the southern Ethiopian rift. Our record reveals two modes of climate cha...
Article
In this study, we synthesize terrestrial and marine proxy records, spanning the past 620 ky, to decipher pan-African climate variability and its drivers and potential linkages to hominin evolution. We find a tight correlation between moisture availability across Africa to El Niño Southern Ocean oscillation (ENSO) variability, a manifestation of the...
Article
The Chew Bahir Drilling Project (CBDP) aims to test possible linkages between climate and hominin evolution in Africa through the analysis of sediment cores that have recorded environmental changes in the Chew Bahir basin (CHB). In this statistical project we used recurrence plots (RPs) together with a recurrence quantification analysis (RQA) to di...
Article
Full-text available
Establishing robust environmental proxies at newly investigated terrestrial sedimentary archives is a challenge, because straightforward climate reconstructions can be hampered by the complex relationship between climate parameters and sediment composition, proxy preservation or (in)sufficient sample material. We present a minimally invasive hypers...
Article
Full-text available
We present new mineralogical and geochemical data from modern sediments in the Chew Bahir basin and catchment, Ethiopia. Our goal is to better understand the role of modern sedimentary processes in chemical proxy formation in the Chew Bahir paleolake, a newly investigated paleoclimatic archive, to provide environmental context for human evolution a...
Article
Full-text available
The use of cyclostratigraphy to reconstruct the timing of deposition of lacustrine deposits requires sophisticated tuning techniques that can accommodate continuous long-term changes in sedimentation rates. However, most tuning methods use stationary filters that are unable to take into account such long-term variations in accumulation rates. To ov...
Article
Full-text available
The Ethiopian rift is known for its diverse landscape, ranging from arid and semi-arid savannahs to high and humid mountainous regions. Lacustrine sediments and paleo-shorelines indicate water availability fluctuated dramatically from deep fresh water lakes, to shallow highly alkaline lakes, to completely desiccated lakes. To investigate the role l...
Article
The Neogene and Quaternary are characterized by enormous changes in global climate and environments, including global cooling and the establishment of northern high-latitude glaciers. These changes reshaped global ecosystems, including the emergence of tropical dry forests and savannahs that are found in Africa today, which in turn may have influen...
Conference Paper
This paper reports on the application of advanced hyperspectral analysis to support the nondestructive study of samples from long sediment cores (up to 280 m coring depth) collected under the Hominin Sites and Paleolake Drilling Program (HSPDP) in the Chew Bahir region of southern Ethiopia. For this purpose, the bidirectional reflectance of 35 core...
Article
Full-text available
The Chew Bahir Drilling Project (CBDP) aims to test possible linkages between climate and evolution in Africa through the analysis of sediment cores that have recorded environmental changes in the Chew Bahir basin. In this statistical project we consider the Chew Bahir palaeolake to be a dynamical system consisting of interactions between its diffe...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Eastern African hydroclimate in the early Holocene created a lush landscape in what is commonly referred to as the African Humid Period (AHP: ∼15 to 5 ka). The termination of the AHP was characterised by a climatic shift towards drier conditions. This resulted in the desiccation of many lakes and may have pressured hunter-gather societies to move t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The sediments of the Chew Bahir playa lake in southern Ethiopia were cored down to 280 m depth in the context of HSPDP (Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project) and CRC (Collaborative Research Center) 806 "Our way to Europe" projects. The main aim is to reconstruct the paleoenvironmental conditions during the development of anatomically moder...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Kenyan and Ethiopian rifts in eastern Africa are known for their diverse landscape, ranging from arid and semi-arid savannahs to high and lush mountainous regions, where anatomically modern humans were present since ∼195 ka BP. Lacustrine sediments and paleo-shorelines indicate water availability fluctuated dramatically during this period from...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
How do we convert variabilities and trends in hundreds of potential parameters that are typically analyzed in the framework of a scientific drilling project to actual climate proxies? Using the case study from the Chew Bahir core from the southern Ethiopian Rift, we will show that deciphering climate information from lake sediments is challenging,...
Article
We used a change point analysis on a late Pleistocene–Holocene lake-sediment record from the Chew Bahir basin in the southern Ethiopian Rift to determine the amplitude and duration of past climate transitions. The most dramatic changes occurred over 240 yr (from ~15,700 to 15,460 yr) during the onset of the African Humid Period (AHP), and over 990...
Article
Deciphering paleoclimate from lake sediments is a challenge due to the complex relationship between climate parameters and sediment composition. Here we show the links between potassium (K) concentrations in the sediments of the Chew Bahir basin in the Southern Ethiopian Rift and fluctuations in the catchment precipitation/evaporation balance. Our...
Article
Full-text available
Our understanding of the impact of climate-driven environmental change on prehistoric human populations is hampered by the scarcity of continuous paleoenvironmental records in the vicinity of archaeological sites. Here we compare a continuous paleoclimatic record of the last 20 ka before present from the Chew Bahir basin, southwest Ethiopia, with t...
Article
The role that climate and environmental history may have played in influencing human evolution has been the focus of considerable interest and controversy among paleoanthropologists for decades. Prior attempts to understand the environmental history side of this equation have centered around the study of outcrop sediments and fossils adjacent to wh...
Article
We welcome the comment by Wright and Forman (2016) on our paper as a useful opportunity to stimulate the discussion around interdisciplinary comparative approaches using palaeoenviron- mental and archaeological data. The authors of the comment ques- tion our interpretation of the archaeological record, and the concept of a Holocene refugium in the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In search of the environmental context of the evolution and dispersal of Homo sapiens and our close relatives within and beyond the African continent, the ICDP-funded Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP) has recently cored five fluvio-lacustrine archives of climate change in East Africa. The sediment cores collected in Ethiopia and...
Article
Full-text available
The role that climate and environmental history may have played in influencing human evolution has been the focus of considerable interest and controversy among paleoanthropologists for decades. Prior attempts to understand the environmental history side of this equation have centered around the study of outcrop sediments and fossils adjacent to wh...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Chew Bahir, a deep tectonically-bound basin in southern Ethiopia, today covered by ~2000 km2 of saline mudflats, is a newly explored and recently ICDP-cored climatic archive, containing a several kilometer thick infill of fine lacustrine deposits. The site lies in close proximity to the Lower Omo, site of the oldest known fossils of anatomically mo...
Article
Full-text available
Episodes of environmental stability and instability may be equally important for African hominin speciation, dispersal, and cultural innovation. Three examples of a change from stable to unstable environmental conditions are presented on three different time scales: (1) the Mid Holocene (MH) wet-dry transition in the Chew Bahir basin (Southern Ethi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Chew Bahir, as a newly explored and just recently ICDP-cored climatic archive, lies between the Main Ethiopian Rift and the Omo-Turkana basin, site of the oldest known fossils of anatomically modern humans. Today Chew Bahir is a saline mudflat in a deep tectonically-bound basin that contains a several kilometre thick sedimentary infill. This basin...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Chew Bahir basin, as a newly explored sedimentary climatic archive, lies in a biogeographically highly sensitive transition zone between the Main Ethiopian Rift and the Omo-Turkana basin, the region where the fossils of the oldest known anatomically modern human were found. Thus, a continuous climatic history from this area could give valuable...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Klimaschwankungen und eine sich rasch verändernde Umwelt könnten erheblichen Einfluss auf die menschliche Evolution, Wanderungsbewegungen, und kulturelle als auch technische Entwicklungen gehabt haben. Um diesen möglichen Einfluss von kurzfristigen Klimaschwankungen und langfristigen Klimaänderungen auf verschiedenen Zeitskalen auf den frühen Mensc...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Sediment records from two lakes in the biodiversity hotspot of the Southern Ethiopian Rift were retrieved, Lake Chamo (c. 9 ka) and Chew Bahir (c. 45 ka). Sedimentological and palaeoecological proxies infer rapidly changing environmental conditions (wet-dry cycle) such as the African Humid Period. The fossil record in both archives is fairly rich i...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
A rapidly changing environment is considered an important driver not just for human evolution but also for cultural and technological innovation and migration. To evaluate the impact that climatic shifts on different timescales might have had on the living conditions of prehistoric humans is one of the cornerstones in current research, but continuo...
Article
Rapid changes in environmental conditions are considered to be an important driver for human evolution, cultural and technological innovation, and expansion out of Africa. However, the nature of these environmental changes, their amplitude and correlation with steps in human evolution is the subject of current debates. Here we present a high-resolu...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The structure and evolution of East Africa Rift Valley has made the region sensitive to climate change, with alternating wet and arid periods that may have influenced human evolution. Understanding environmental change and its impact on human societies for the last few millennia may provide insights that can be applied to longer records from the re...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Understanding the possible linkages between environmental history and human evolution requires a detailed record of climatic, tectonic and hydrographic history for the regions of interest. In eastern Africa, thick lacustrine deposits often occur in close proximity to some of the most important fossil hominin and artifact localities, providing an op...
Article
Full-text available
East African paleoenvironments are highly variable, marked by extreme fluctuations in moisture availability, which has far-reaching implications for the origin, evolution and dispersal of Homo sapiens in and beyond the region. This paper presents results from a pilot core from the Chew Bahir basin in southern Ethiopia that records the climatic hist...
Conference Paper
Chew Bahir, today a saline mudflat in a tectonically-bounded basin in southern Ethiopia, lies between the Main Ethiopian Rift and the Omo-Turkana basin, site of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils. Sedimentary records from Chew Bahir can therefore provide fundamental data for reconstructing Late Quaternary environments in the source...
Article
Quasi-continuous variations of the Earth's magnetic field recorded in lake sediments can provide detailed time series describing the evolution of the geomagnetic field. To make robust conclusions about underlying geodynamo processes an improvement in the global coverage of recording sites is required. Current lake data for the late Brunhes are bias...

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