New research has confirmed that the dry, desolate climate of the Sahara Desert was once a lush tropical climate—an observation that correlates well with the predictions of biblical creationists, a physicist with the Institute for Creation Research says.
A team of international researchers collected and analyzed marine sediments from off the coast of west Africa, looking for clues into Africa’s climatological past. Their findings, published in the journal “Science Advances,” show that northern Africa was at one time much wetter than it is today.
“It was 10 times as wet as today,” said the study’s lead author, Jessica Tierney, in a press release from The University of Arizona.
Tierney and her colleagues found ancient leaf wax samples that reveal what the African climate was like several thousand years ago. The evidence suggests that the Sahara Desert, where annual rainfall now is usually less than five inches, was once lush and green.
“Our precipitation rate estimates confirm the interpretation that a seasonal tropical climate dominated most regions of North Africa during the Green Sahara time,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
“It is therefore feasible that, at the peak of the Green Sahara, monsoonal moisture inundated the entire western Saharan region,” they added.
Although scientists already knew that rainfall rates in ancient Africa were once higher than they are today, most climate model simulations underestimated how widespread the tropical conditions were.
“With some notable exceptions, climate model simulations do not predict these high rainfall rates, nor do they indicate that the Green Sahara extended as far as 31°N,” the team wrote in their journal article.
As scientists struggle to make sense of the new data and adjust their climate models accordingly, biblical creationists say that these findings point to the global flood described in Genesis. Dr. Jake Hebert, a physicist with the Institute for Creation Research, says scientific models based on the Bible predict an extremely wet period following the Great Flood.
“Rapid seafloor spreading and volcanic activity during the Genesis Flood would have significantly warmed the world’s oceans,” he wrote in a online article published late last month. “This would have greatly increased evaporation, putting much more moisture into the atmosphere. This increased moisture would have resulted in much more precipitation, in the form of snow, in the higher latitudes and on mountaintops, and rain at lower latitudes and elevations.”
North Africa is not the only dry region that was once wet and tropical, Hebert pointed out. However, secular models, based primarily on uniformitarianism, struggle to explain the drastic climate changes that the earth experienced several millennia ago.
“This past climate change is difficult for secular scientists to explain,” he wrote. “Some uniformitarian scientists claim the wet Green Sahara was caused by changes in Earth’s orbital motions (the astronomical or Milankovitch theory of climate change), which caused a small increase in solar radiation some 9,000 years ago. This extra solar radiation supposedly warmed the continents, intensifying summer monsoons over Europe and Africa. But there are serious problems with attributing past climate change to astronomical motions.”
The Biblical model accounts for the evidence much better than secular theories, Hebert concluded.
“The conclusion of increased Saharan rainfall in the recent past is in perfect agreement with the history recorded in Genesis,” he said