Climatic Changes in Israel during Historical Times and Their Impact on Hydrological, Pedological and Socio-Economic Systems

  • A. Issar
  • H. Tsoar
  • D. Levin
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 282)


A change from the deposition of loess to that of sand was observed in the southern coastal plain of Israel at the end of the Pleistocene (starting ca. 20 K B.P.). This was explained by a northward movement of the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone) over East Africa which reduced the number of dust rain storms with a simultaneous northward movement of the East African Monsoonal Belt, which caused a rise in the level of the Nile and with it an increase in the supply of sand to the Mediterranean. Such a change in deposition was also observed at the transition from the Byzantine to the Arab periods (ca. 650 A.D.), and thus a similar climatic change for this historical period, was also suggested. This raised the question whether, prior to this change, a more humid phase did not affect the Levant while a dry spell affected the East African monsoon belt.

The environmental data from this period, such as 18O and 13C, as well as pollen of olive and oak trees in a core in the Sea of Galilee, records of the Dead Sea Level and the level of the Nile, indeed show that during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods (from about 300 BC. to 600 A.D.) these paleo-environmental conditions existed.

During the more humid period agricultural settlements expanded into the desert and vice versa.


Sand Dune Dust Storm Late Pleistocene Glacial Period Coastal Dune 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Begin Z.B., Ehrlich A. & Nathan Y. (1974). ‘Lake Lisan, the Pleistocene precursor of the Dead Sea.’ Bull. No. 63. Geological Survey, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, State of Israel, 30 p.Google Scholar
  2. Baruch, U. (1986). ‘The Late Holocene vegetational history of Lake Kinneret’ (Sea of Galilee), Israel. Paleorient Vol. 12/2:137–148.Google Scholar
  3. Bowman D., Karnieli A., Issar A. & Bruins H.J. (1986). ‘Residual colluvio-aeolian aprons in the Negev highlands, Israel, as a paleo-climatic indication.’ Paleogeog. Paleoclimat. Paleobot., 56:89–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruins H.J. (1986). ‘Desert environment and agriculture in the central Negev and Kadesh-Barnea during historical times’ Midbar Foundation / Nijkerk, The Netherlands, 219 p.Google Scholar
  5. Bruins H.J. & Yaalon D.H. (1979). ‘Stratigraphy of the Netivot section in the desert loess of the Negev (Israel).’ Act. Geol. Acad. Scient. Hungaricae, 22(1–4):161–169.Google Scholar
  6. Dotan T. (1981). Deir El Balah, Prelim. Report. Israel Exp. J. 31:126–131.Google Scholar
  7. Dothan, T. (1982). ‘Lost outpost of the Egyptian Empire’. National Geographic 62:739–769.Google Scholar
  8. Emery K.D. & Neev D. (1960). ‘Mediterranean beaches of Israel.’ Geol. Survey Israel, Bull. 26, 1–24 p.Google Scholar
  9. Evenari M., Shanan L. & Tadmor N. (1971). The Negev: The Challenge of a Desert. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 345 p.Google Scholar
  10. Ganor, E. (1975). Atmospheric Dust in Israel - Sedimentological and Meteorological analysis of Dust Deposition.’ Ph.D. Thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (In Hebrew). Google Scholar
  11. Gat J.R. & Dansgaard W. (1972). ‘Stable isotope survey of fresh water occurrence in Israel and the Jordan Rift Valley.’ J. Hydrology 16:177–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gat J.R. & Rindsberger M. (1985). ‘The isotopic signature of precipitation originating in the Mediterranean Sea area.’ Israel J. of Earth Sciences 34:80–85.Google Scholar
  13. Goldberg, P. (1986). ‘Late Quaternary Environmental History of the Southern Levant.’ Geoarchaeolooy 1:225–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goldsmith, V., & A. Golik (1980). ‘Sediment Transport Model of the Southeastern mediterranean Coast.’ Marine-Geology 37:147–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goldsmith, V., P. Rosen, & Y. Gertner (1988). ’Eollian Sediment Transport on the Israeli Coast’. Final Report to U.S. - Israel BSF, Jerusalem.Google Scholar
  16. Gonfiantini R., Conrad G., Fontes F.C., Sauzay G. & Payne B.R. (1974). ‘Etude isotopique de la nappe du Continental Intercalaire et de ses relations avec les autres nappes dû Sahara septentional.’ Isotope Techniques in Groundwater Hydrology (Proc. Symp. Vienna, 1974) 1:227, IAEA, Vienna.Google Scholar
  17. Goodfriend, G.A. (1988). ‘Mid-Holocene rainfall in the Negev desert from 13C of land snail shell organic matter.’ Nature 333:757–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodfriend C.A. & Magaritz M. (1987). ‘A high stand of the Dead Sea at the end of the Neolithic Period.’ Climatic Change 9:349–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goodfriend, G.A., & M. Magaritz (1988). ‘Palaeosols and Late Pleistocene Rainfall Fluctuation in the Negev Desert.’ Nature 332:144–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goren, Y., & I. Gilead (1986). Man and Environment in Nahal Seker, Northern Negev, during the Quaternary. Mitkofat Aeven 19:58–70 (In Hebrew).Google Scholar
  21. Goring-Morris, A.G. (1987). At the Edge. Bar, Oxford.Google Scholar
  22. Issar A. (1968). ‘Geology of the central coastal plain of Israel.’ Israel J. Earth Science 17(1):16–29.Google Scholar
  23. Issar A. & Eckstein Y. (1969). ‘The Lacustrine beds of Wadi Feiran, Sinai.’ Israel J. Earth Science 18(1):29–32.Google Scholar
  24. Issar A., Bein A. & Michaeli A. (1972). ‘On the ancient water of the Upper Nubian sandstone aquifer in central Sinai and southern Israel.’ J. of Hydrol. 17:353–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Issar A. & Bruins H. (1983). ‘Special climatic conditions in the Sinai and Negev during the Most Upper Pleistocene.’ Paleogeoq. Paleoclimat. Paleoeco. 42: 63–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Issar A. & Tsoar H. (1987). ‘Who is to blame for the desertification of the Negev Israel; the influence of climatic variability on the hydrologic regime and water resources.’ Proc. Vancouver Syrnp. IAHS, Publ. No. 168:577–583.Google Scholar
  27. Issar A.S., Tsoar H., Gilead Y. & Zangvil A. (1987). ‘Paleoclimatogic model to explain depositional environments during Late Pleistocene, in the Negev, Israel.’ In: Progress in Desert Research, (eds.) Berkofsky, L. & Wurtele, M.G., Rowman and Allanhead, 302–309Google Scholar
  28. Issar A., Bahat D & E. Wakshal. (1988). ‘Occurrence of secondary gypsum veins in joints in chalks in the Negev, Israel.’ Catena 15:241–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Klein C. (1982). ‘Morphological evidence of lake level changes, western shore of the Dead Sea.’ Israel J. Earth Sciences 31:67–94.Google Scholar
  30. Klitzsch von E., Sonntag C., Weistroffer K. & El Shaziy E.M. (1976). ‘Grundwasser der Zentralsahara: Fossile vorrate.’ Geol. Rundschau 65(1):264–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kutzbach J.E. (1987). ‘The changing pulse of the monsoons.’ In; Monsoons (Eds. Fein J.S. & Stephens P.L.), John Wiley & Sons Inc. 247–267.Google Scholar
  32. Leguy C., Rindsberger M., Issar A. & Gat J. (1983). The relation between 18O and deuterium content of rainwater in the Negev and air masses trajectories.’ J. of Isotope Geosciences 1:205–218.Google Scholar
  33. Neev D. & Emery K.D. (1967). ‘The Dead Sea: Depositional processes and environments of evaporates.’ Geol. Surv. Israel Bull. 41:147.Google Scholar
  34. Nicholson, S.E. (1980). ‘Saharan climates in historic times.’ In: Sahara and the Nile, (eds.) Williams, M.A.J. & Faure, H.J., Balkema, Rotterdam, 173–200.Google Scholar
  35. Nicholson S.E. & Flohn H. (1980). ‘African environmental and climatic changes and the general circulation in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene.’ Climatic Change 2(4):313–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nir Y. & Eldar I. (1987). ‘Ancient wells and their geoarchaeologlal significance in detecting tectonics of the Issrael Mediterranean coastline region.’ Geology 15:3–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Norris, R.M. (1969). ‘Dune Reddening and Time.’ Jour. Bed. Petrology 39:7–12.Google Scholar
  38. Owen, R.B., Barthelme, J.W., Renaut, R.W. & Vincens, A. (1982). ‘Palaeolimnology and Archaeology fo Holocene Deposits North-East of lake Turkana, Kenya.’ Nature 298(587):523–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pomerancblum, M (1966). ‘The Distribution of Heavy Minerals and their Hydraulic Equivalent in Sediments of the Mediterranean Continental Shelf of Israel.’ Jour. Sed. Petrology 36:162–179.Google Scholar
  40. Porath, Y. (1975). ‘Kayseri Gardens.’ Qadmoniot 8:90–93. (In Hebrew).Google Scholar
  41. Prell W.L. & Kutzbach J.E. (1987). ‘Monsoon variability over the past 150.000 years.’ J. of Geophysical Res. 92 (10.D7):8411–8425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pye, K. (1983). ‘Coastal Dunes.’ Progress in Physical Geography 7:531–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pye, K (1984). ‘Some perspective on loess accumulation.’ Loess Lett. 11:5–10.Google Scholar
  44. Pye, K. & H. Tsoar (1987). ‘The Mechanics and Geological Implications of Dust Transport and Deposition in Deserts with Particular Reference to Loess Formation and Dunes Diagenesis in the Northern Negev, Israel.’ In: Desert Sediments: Ancient and Modern, (eds.) Frostick, L. & Reid, I., Geological Society Special Publication 35:139–156.Google Scholar
  45. Riefenberg, A. (1953). ‘Desert Research.’ Res. Counc. Isra. Bull. Jerusalem 3:378–391.Google Scholar
  46. Rindsberger M., Magaritz M., Carmi I. & Gilad D. (1983). ‘The relation between air mass trajectories and the water isotope composition of rain in the editerranean Sea area.’ Geophys. Res. Lett. 10:43–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rosen A.M. (1986). Cities of the Clays: The Geoarchaeology of Tells. University of Chicago Press, 280 p.Google Scholar
  48. Sneh, A. (1982). ‘Drainage Systems of the Quaternary in Northern Sinai with Emphasis on Wadi El-Arish.’ Z. Geomorph. N.F. 26:179–195.Google Scholar
  49. Sneh, A. (1984). ‘Redeposited Loess from the Qauternary Besor Basin, Israel.’ Israel J. Earth Science 32:63–69.Google Scholar
  50. Sonntag C., Neureuther P., Lalinke Ch., Munnich K.O., Klitzsch E. & Weistroffer K. (1976). ‘Zur Palaoklimatik der Sahara. Kontinentaleffekt im D- und 0–18-Gehalt pluvialer Saharawasser.’ Naturwissenschaften 63:479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stiller, M., Ehrlich, A., Pollinger, U., Baruch, U. & Kaufman, A. (1984). ‘The Late Holocene sediments of lake Kinneret (Israel) -multidisciplinary study of a 5m core.’ In: Geological Survey of Israel, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Jerusalem, Israel.Google Scholar
  52. Stuvier, M. (1970). ‘Oxygen and Carbon Isotope Ratios of Fresh Water Carbonates as Climatic Factors.’ J. of Geophys. Res. 75(27): 5247–5257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tsoar, H. (1976). ‘Characterization of Sand Dune Environments by their Grain-Size, Mineralogy and Surface Texture.’ In: Geography in Israel, (eds.) Amiran, D.H.K. & Ben-Ariueh, Y., IGU, Jerusalem, p. 327–343.Google Scholar
  54. Tsoar, H. and Pye, K (1987). ‘Dust Transport and the Question of Desert Loess Formation’. Sedimentology 34:139–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Walker, T.R. (1979). ‘Red Color in Dune Sand’. In: A Study of Global Sand Seas, (ed.) Mckee, E.D.,U.S. Geol. Surv. Prof. Paper, 1052, 61–81.Google Scholar
  56. Yaalon, D.H. and E. Ganor (1975). `Rate of Aeolian Dust Accretion in the Mediterranean Desert Fringe Environments of Israel.’ 1th Congr. IAS, Nice, pp. 169–174.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Issar
    • 1
  • H. Tsoar
    • 2
  • D. Levin
    • 1
  1. 1.The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the Negev Sede Boqer CampusIsrael
  2. 2.Department of GeographyBen-Gurion University of the Negev Sede Boqer CampusIsrael

Personalised recommendations