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Permanent El Niño-Like Conditions During the Pliocene Warm Period

Science  29 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5735, pp. 758-761
DOI: 10.1126/science.1112596

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Abstract

During the warm early Pliocene (∼4.5 to 3.0 million years ago), the most recent interval with a climate warmer than today, the eastern Pacific thermocline was deep and the average west-to-east sea surface temperature difference across the equatorial Pacific was only 1.5 ± 0.9°C, much like it is during a modern El Niño event. Thus, the modern strong sea surface temperature gradient across the equatorial Pacific is not a stable and permanent feature. Sustained El Niño-like conditions, including relatively weak zonal atmospheric (Walker) circulation, could be a consequence of, and play an important role in determining, global warmth.

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