Public Lecture | Sahara – The Shifting Sands of Time | Beacon Professor Clive Finlayson

17 October 2022
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Date: Monday 17th October 2022
Time: 18:00 – 19:30
Location: Conference Hall, Europa Point Campus

About this lecture series

The public lecture series ‘Gibraltar – Paradise Between Oceans, Ice Sheets and Deserts’ will review our current state of knowledge of past climate change and how it affected Gibraltar, in particular. It sets Gibraltar at a junction, with ice sheets to the north, the Sahara Desert to the south and the Atlantic and Mediterranean to the west and east, respectively. The focus will be on the rapid, and often violent, climate changes which affected the northern hemisphere during the last glacial cycle, between 125,000 and 10,000 years ago. It will also include the subsequent global warming. These included significant changes in sea level. How did Gibraltar react to these changes and can we learn lessons when looking at future scenarios? The lectures will draw upon specific examples from Gibraltar, based on the research which is being carried out at the Gorham’s Cave Complex UNESCO World Heritage Site, which will help to set Gibraltar in the broader context.

About this lecture

The third Beacon Lecture in the four-part series “Gibraltar – Paradise between oceans, ice sheets and deserts” is entitled “Sahara – The Shifting Sands of Time”. The precipitation of Saharan dust over Gibraltar has become a recent topic of conversation but how unusual are these events? Across a single person’s lifetime it may, indeed, seem odd but across millennia such events have been common. The first two lectures in the series addressed the climate influences on Gibraltar from the west (Atlantic) and north (Scandinavia). This third lecture looks south and asks to what degree the Sahara has had an influence on Gibraltar. It will examine the changes that have taken place in the Sahara from its origins over 4 million years ago. There have been times when the Sahara was green. It was filled with huge lakes and aquatic animals. People entered the area and thrived there. Migratory birds had a relatively easy passage between Europe and Africa. At other times the sands took over and almost all life left this area, roughly equivalent to the United States in surface area.

About the speaker

Clive Finlayson is Beacon Professor at the University of Gibraltar and Director of the Gibraltar National Museum and of the Gorham’s Cave Complex UNESCO World Heritage Site. He is also Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (Canada) and Visiting Professor at Liverpool John Moores University (UK), as well as an Elected Member of the European Academy. Clive describes himself as a naturalist with an interest in a diverse range of subjects, from archaeology to ecology, that have contributed to his world view. His specialist subjects include avian evolutionary ecology and human origins, and he has published widely within both peer-reviewed articles and books.
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