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Arc-continent collisions in the tropics set Earth’s climate state

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Science  12 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6436, pp. 181-184
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav5300

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Controlling cooling

On million-year time scales, Earth's climate state is determined by sources and sinks of carbon to the ocean-atmosphere system. But which specific mechanisms are important in controlling the timing of glacial intervals? Macdonald et al. identify arc-continent collisions in the tropics as a primary control (see the Perspective by Hartmann). They compiled a database of Phanerozoic arc-continent collisions and the latitudinal distribution of ice sheets, showing that ice coverage was greatest when those collisions were most widespread, maximizing global weatherability.

Science, this issue p. 181; see also p. 126