Post by Prof. Frank Oldfield
The article is titled: “Delayed buildup of Arctic ice sheets during 400 kyr minima in insolation variability”
Although the paper is mainly about the rather remote past, it has likely implications for the future. Major, long-term shifts in climate are driven by changes in the Earth’s orbit. At present, the orbital configuration closely matches that almost four hundred thousand years ago. What we can learn about that past time may therefore provide some insight into future climate change. Research on the Chinese Loess Plateau (see photo) shows that under the conditions prevailing then, there was a delay of up to twenty thousand years in the build up of northern hemisphere ice sheets after the end of the interglacial as conventionally defined. Even without the increasing concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, this implies a likely extension of relatively mild, non-glacial conditions in the northern hemisphere well beyond the currently predicted end of our ‘Holocene’ interglacial. It also provides a possible new framework within which to model the interactions between human-induced atmospheric changes and natural variability in order to assess the future evolution of our climate.
Full article details:
Hao, Q., Wang L., Oldfield F., Peng Z.,, Qin,L., Song, Y., Xu, B., Qiao, X., Bloemendal, J. and Guo, Z. 2012. Delayed buildup of Arctic ice sheets during 400 kyr minima in insolation variability Nature doi:10.1038/nature11493.