The characterization of decadal to multi-decadal variations in the hydrological cycle on a regional scale is highly relevant to societies in the Middle East, a region where water is a scarce resource. Instrumental records are generally too short to capture the full range of rainfall variability and do not allow to place recent rainfall anomalies into a meaningful historical context. Such information must come from natural archives such as tree rings, lake sediments, historical documents and speleothems. This PhD-project will use Uranium-series dated stalagmites from several caves in the Middle East (e.g., Turkey, Iraq, Oman and Yemen) to construct regional records of rainfall and temperature in order to fill spatial gaps of reconstructions in the Middle East. The PhD-student will compare their records with climate model simulations covering the last two-millennia to investigate the influence of internal and external forcing factors on climate in the Middle East. Furthermore, the new highly-resolved records will be also compared to historical and archaeological evidences for socio-economic transformations to investigate potential relationships between climate and human activities during the late Holocene period. The project involves stable isotope analysis (hydrogen, oxygen and carbon) of speleothem calcite and fluid inclusion water, trace element and digital image analysis. A large part of the analytical work will be performed in the state-off-the-art stable isotope laboratory of the Quaternary Geology group and in close collaboration with various project partners. Furthermore, the PhD-student will also participate in fieldtrips to the Middle East and collaborate closely with project partners.
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