Report

The Mid-Pleistocene Transition in the Tropical Pacific

Science  11 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5750, pp. 1009-1012
DOI: 10.1126/science.1115933

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Abstract

A sea surface temperature (SST) record based on planktonic foraminiferal magnesium/calcium ratios from a site in the western equatorial Pacific warm pool reveals that glacial-interglacial oscillations in SST shifted from a period of 41,000 to 100,000 years at the mid-Pleistocene transition, 950,000 years before the present. SST changes at both periodicities were synchronous with eastern Pacific cold-tongue SSTs but preceded changes in continental ice volume. The timing and nature of tropical Pacific SST changes over the mid-Pleistocene transition implicate a shift in the periodicity of radiative forcing by atmospheric carbon dioxide as the cause of the switch in climate periodicities at this time.

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