MATLAB Code and Data of “Trends, rhythms and events in Plio-Pleistocene African climate” (Trauth et al., QSR 2009)

My paper about the time series analysis of published records of terrigenous dust flux from marine sediments together with Juarn C. Larrasoaña and Manfred Mudelsee was surprisingly successful. The paper was published before I started to publish my results together with data and MATLAB code. Since colleagues often asked for the data and code to carry out further analyzes or simply reproduce the figures, I put them both online today.

We analyzed published records of terrigenous dust flux from marine sediments off subtropical West Africa, the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and the Arabian Sea, and lake records from East Africa using statistical methods to detect trends, rhythms and events in Plio-Pleistocene African climate. The critical reassessment of the environmental significance of dust flux and lake records removes the apparent inconsistencies between marine vs. terrestrial records of African climate variability. Based on these results, major steps in mammalian and hominin evolution occurred during episodes of a wetter, but highly variable climate largely controlled by orbitally induced insolation changes in the low latitudes.

The most important result of this study was that the most dramatic change in aridity and variability in Plio-Pleistocene African climate occurred between 1.4–1.9 Ma and hence after the intensification of the Walker circulation (Trauth et al., QSR 2009, page 407) and not, as previously suggested, at 2.8 (±0.2) Ma and 1.7 (±0.1) Ma and 1.0 (±0.2) Ma. The breakfit regression method is described in Mudelsee (2014); the method to detect short-term change points is described in the MRES book (Trauth, 2015).

Download data and MATLAB code here.


Mudelsee M (2014) Climate Time Series Analysis: Classical Statistical and Bootstrap Methods. Second Edition. Springer, Cham. xxxii + 454 pp [ISBN: 978-3-319-04449-1; Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences Library, No. 51]

Trauth, M.H., Larrasoaña, J.C., Mudelsee, M. (2009) Trends, rhythms and events in Plio-Pleistocene African climate. Quaternary Science Reviews, 28, 399-411.

Trauth, M.H. (2015) MATLAB Recipes for Earth Sciences – Fourth Edition. Springer, 427 p., Supplementary Electronic Material, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-3-662-46244-7.