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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.
Climate - Variability - Conditions - Projections - Carbon
Assessing natural climate variability under relatively warm conditions is crucial to inform projections under future carbon emission scenarios. Professor Chronis Tzedakis (UCL Geography), study lead author, said: "The Last Interglacial is particularly relevant because it provides insights into climate processes during a period of excess warmth."
The Last Interglacial period contained an interval of intense Arctic warming, with surface air temperatures estimated at 3-11°C above pre-industrial, comparable to high-latitude warming scenarios for the end of this century.
Sea-level - Interglacial - M - Present - M
Global sea-level during the Last Interglacial is estimated to have been ~6-9 m above present, with 0.6-3.5 m derived from melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Previously, several North Atlantic and European records have detected century-scale changes in temperature and precipitation within the Last Interglacial, but there has been considerable uncertainty over the timing, extent and origin of these climate oscillations.
Study - Researchers - Twelve - Institutions - Marine
This new study by international researchers from twelve institutions used marine and terrestrial geological archives, coupled with climate model experiments, to create the most detailed timeline of ocean and atmosphere changes in the North Atlantic and southern Europe during the Last Interglacial.
To address the uncertainties in comparing records from different environments, researchers produced a "stratigraphic 'rosetta stone' by analysing different fossils from the same sediment samples in a marine...
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