Nonlinear climatic sensitivity to greenhouse gases over past 4 glacial/interglacial cycles

Li Lo, Sheng Pu Chang, Kuo Yen Wei, Shih Yu Lee, Tsong Hua Ou, Yi Chi Chen, Chih Kai Chuang, Horng Sheng Mii, George S. Burr, Min Te Chen, Ying Hung Tung, Meng Chieh Tsai, David A. Hodell, Chuan Chou Shen

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Abstract

The paleoclimatic sensitivity to atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) has recently been suggested to be nonlinear, however a GHG threshold value associated with deglaciation remains uncertain. Here, we combine a new sea surface temperature record spanning the last 360,000 years from the southern Western Pacific Warm Pool with records from five previous studies in the equatorial Pacific to document the nonlinear relationship between climatic sensitivity and GHG levels over the past four glacial/interglacial cycles. The sensitivity of the responses to GHG concentrations rises dramatically by a factor of 2-4 at atmospheric CO2 levels of >220 ppm. Our results suggest that the equatorial Pacific acts as a nonlinear amplifier that allows global climate to transition from deglacial to full interglacial conditions once atmospheric CO2 levels reach threshold levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4626
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1

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Lo, L., Chang, S. P., Wei, K. Y., Lee, S. Y., Ou, T. H., Chen, Y. C., Chuang, C. K., Mii, H. S., Burr, G. S., Chen, M. T., Tung, Y. H., Tsai, M. C., Hodell, D. A., & Shen, C. C. (2017). Nonlinear climatic sensitivity to greenhouse gases over past 4 glacial/interglacial cycles. Scientific Reports, 7(1), [4626]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-04031-x