Oceanographers battled high winds and big waves while a ship-mounted drilling platform pulled up 623m of core samples from beneath the rolling water – a relatively common activity. The only difference with this scene is that it was played out on the surface of one of the world’s oldest and deepest lakes – Lake Malawi. Their triumph over logistical and engineering challenges has now provided scientists with up to 1.5 million years of information on climate change in Africa.
Oceanography professor John King of University of Rhode Island highlighted the importance of the sediment core.“The role of the tropics within the global climate system is not well understood at present. The results of this project will significantly improve our overall understanding of the global climate system. “The lake has restricted circulation and virtually no oxygen at the bottom, so each year seasonal deposition of sediment creates a pattern like tree rings. With the cores we collected we’ll be able to look art very old records of climate data simply by counting and analysing the layers.” This is the longest continuous record of climate data recovered in Africa.