|Credit: Tomas Castelazo, Wikimedia Commons|
In addition, the study showed that the regular monsoon rains for these regions didn't just migrate south during the drought, as previously thought. The rains weakened significantly as well, thus revealing that the mega-drought had a much greater geographical impact and was more catastrophic than previously believed.
Interestingly, an analysis of sediment cores revealed that the mega-drought took place roughly 16,000 to 17,000 years ago, which coincided with another major climate change event: the peak of the Heinrich Stadial 1, a massive surge of icebergs and meltwater into the North Atlantic at the end of the last ice age. While it is still unknown whether the massive ice melt contributed or even caused the mega-drought, the study discusses possible ways that the Heinrich event may have influenced atmospheric and rainfall systems in favor of a drought.
The authors mention that the mechanisms that drive rainfall systems in the African-Asian region, which affect more than half of all humanity, are poorly understood and difficult to model. However, as the Arctic continues to melt at an unprecedented rate, the study raises valid questions about whether the current ice melt could, in theory, contribute to a similar drought.