Archives par mot-clé : Pliocene

Atmospheric CO2 during the Mid-Piacenzian Warm Period and the M2 glaciation

by de la Vega et al., 2020 in Nature OPEN  ACCESS


The Piacenzian stage of the Pliocene (2.6 to 3.6 Ma) is the most recent past interval of sustained global warmth with mean global temperatures markedly higher (by ~2–3 °C) than today. Quantifying CO2 levels during the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period (mPWP) provides a means, therefore, to deepen our understanding of Earth System behaviour in a warm climate state. Here we present a new high-resolution record of atmospheric CO2 using the δ11B-pH proxy from 3.35 to 3.15 million years ago (Ma) at a temporal resolution of 1 sample per 3–6 thousand years (kyrs). Our study interval covers both the coolest marine isotope stage of the mPWP, M2 (~3.3 Ma) and the transition into its warmest phase including interglacial KM5c (centered on ~3.205 Ma) which has a similar orbital configuration to present. We find that CO2 ranged from 389+388389−8+38ppm to 331+1311,331−11+13,ppm, with CO2 during the KM5c interglacial being 371+3229371−29+32ppm (at 95% confidence). Our findings corroborate the idea that changes in atmospheric CO2 levels played a distinct role in climate variability during the mPWP. They also facilitate ongoing data-model comparisons and suggest that, at present rates of human emissions, there will be more CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere by 2025 than at any time in at least the last 3.3 million years.

If CO2 Caused Mid-Pliocene Warming, What Caused late-Pliocene Cooling? You Guessed!

by P. Homewood, April 7, 2019 in NotaLotofPeopleKnowThat


It is thought that the Northern Hemisphere experienced only ephemeral glaciations from the Late Eocene to the Early Pliocene epochs (about 38 to 4 million years ago), and that the onset of extensive glaciations did not occur until about 3 million years ago. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain this increase in Northern Hemisphere glaciation during the Late Pliocene. Here we use a fully coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model and an ice-sheet model to assess the impact of the proposed driving mechanisms for glaciation and the influence of orbital variations on the development of the Greenland ice sheet in particular. We find that Greenland glaciation is mainly controlled by a decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the Late Pliocene. By contrast, our model results suggest that climatic shifts associated with the tectonically driven closure of the Panama seaway, with the termination of a permanent El Niño state or with tectonic uplift are not large enough to contribute significantly to the growth of the Greenland ice sheet; moreover, we find that none of these processes acted as a priming mechanism for glacial inception triggered by variations in the Earth’s orbit.