Interglacial Hydroclimate in the Tropical West Pacific Through the Late Pleistocene

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Science  03 May 2012:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218340

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Records of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (pCO2) and Antarctic temperature have revealed an intriguing change in the magnitude of interglacial warmth and pCO2 at around 430 thousand years ago (ka), but the global climate repercussions of this change remain elusive. Here, we present a stalagmite-based reconstruction of tropical West Pacific hydroclimate from 570 to 210 ka. The results suggest similar regional precipitation amounts across the four interglacials contained in the record, implying that tropical hydroclimate was insensitive to interglacial differences in pCO2 and high-latitude temperature. In contrast, during glacial terminations, drying in the tropical West Pacific accompanied cooling events in northern high latitudes. Therefore, the tropical convective heat engine can either stabilize or amplify global climate change, depending on the nature of the climate forcing.

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