Archives par mot-clé : Pleistocene

Major cosmic impact 12,800 years ago

by James Kennett et al., March 13, 2019 in CO2Coalition


When UC Santa Barbara geology professor emeritus James Kennett and colleagues set out years ago to examine signs of a major cosmic impact that occurred toward the end of the Pleistocene epoch, little did they know just how far-reaching the projected climatic effect would be.

“It’s much more extreme than I ever thought when I started this work,” Kennett noted. “The more work that has been done, the more extreme it seems.”

He’s talking about the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, which postulates that a fragmented comet slammed into the Earth close to 12,800 years ago, causing rapid climatic changes, megafaunal extinctions, sudden human population decrease and cultural shifts and widespread wildfires (biomass burning). The hypothesis suggests a possible triggering mechanism for the abrupt changes in climate at that time, in particular a rapid cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, called the Younger Dryas, amid a general global trend of natural warming and ice sheet melting evidenced by changes in the fossil and sediment record.

Human ancestors not to blame for ancient mammal extinctions in Africa

by University of Utah, November23, 2018 in ScienceDaily


New research disputes a long-held view that our earliest tool-bearing ancestors contributed to the demise of large mammals in Africa over the last several million years. Instead, the researchers argue that long-term environmental change drove the extinctions, mainly in the form of grassland expansion likely caused by falling atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

The study is published today in the journal Science.

“Despite decades of literature asserting that early hominins impacted ancient African faunas, there have been few attempts to actually test this scenario or to explore alternatives,” Faith says. “We think our study is a major step towards understanding the depth of anthropogenic impacts on large mammal communities, and provides a convincing counter-argument to these long-held views about our early ancestors.”

To test for ancient hominin impacts, the researchers compiled a seven-million-year record of herbivore extinctions in eastern Africa, focusing on the very largest species, the so-called ‘megaherbivores’ (species over 2,000 lbs.) Though only five megaherbivores exist in Africa today, there was a much greater diversity in the past. For example, three-million-year-old ‘Lucy’ (Australopithecus afarensis) shared her woodland landscape with three giraffes, two rhinos, a hippo, and four elephant-like species at Hadar, Ethiopia.

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Paleoclimatological Context and Reference Level of the 2°C and 1.5°C Paris Agreement Long-Term Temperature Limits

by S. Lüning & F. Vahrenholt, December12, 2017 in FrontEarthSci


The Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 during the COP21 conference stipulates that the increase in the global average temperature is to be kept well below 2°C above “pre-industrial levels” and that efforts are pursued to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above “pre-industrial levels.” In order to further increase public acceptance of these limits it is important to transparently place the target levels and their baselines in a paleoclimatic context of the past 150,000 years (Last Interglacial, LIG) and in particular of the last 10,000 years (Holocene; Present Interglacial, PIG). Intense paleoclimatological research of the past decade has firmed up that pre-industrial temperatures have been highly variable which needs to be reflected in the pre-industrial climate baseline definitions …

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Study: climate was more variable during the last inter-glacial period

by Anthony Watts, October 12, 2018 in WUWT


Century-scale climate variability was enhanced when the Earth was warmer during the Last Interglacial period (129-116 thousand years ago) compared to the current interglacial (the last 11,700 years), according to a new UCL-led study.

The findings, published today in Nature Communications and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC), reveal that the Last Interglacial period was punctuated by a series of century-scale arid events in southern Europe and cold water-mass expansions in the North Atlantic.

Terminal Pleistocene epoch human footprints from the Pacific coast of Canada

by D.C. McLaren et al., 2018 in PLOS.ONE


Little is known about the ice age human occupation of the Pacific Coast of Canada. Here we present the results of a targeted investigation of a late Pleistocene shoreline on Calvert Island, British Columbia. Drawing upon existing geomorphic information that sea level in the area was 2–3 m lower than present between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago, we began a systematic search for archaeological remains dating to this time period beneath intertidal beach sediments (…)