PALEOCLIMATE

A shifting wet girdle around the tropics

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Science  27 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6264, pp. 1052-1053
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6264.1052-d

A fossil Globigerinoides ruber, used to reconstruct past precipitation changes

PHOTO: LIU ET AL.

The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) causes heavy rains to fall in a seasonally migrating band around the globe near the equator. Because it delivers so much precipitation to so many regions, it is a vital component of climate that affects many ecosystems and human populations, so any possible changes in its position could have major implications for them. Liu et al. show that, for the past 280,000 years at least, the average position of the ITCZ in the western Pacific has been controlled by a combination of solar obliquity and precession. The dependence that they see on the thermal state of the atmosphere may provide insights into possible effects on the ITCZ from anthropogenic global warming.

Nat. Commun. 10.1038/ncomms10018 (2015).

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