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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  07 Apr 2020

07 Apr 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Assessing the Statistical Uniqueness of the Younger Dryas: A Robust Multivariate Analysis

Henry Nye1 and Alan Condron2 Henry Nye and Alan Condron
  • 1Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Haverford College, PA 19041
  • 2Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MA 02543

Abstract. During the last glacial period (c. 120–11 kyr BP), dramatic temperature swings, known as Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events, are clearly manifest in high resolution oxygen isotope records from the Greenland ice sheet. Although variability in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is often invoked, a unified explanation for what caused these "sawtooth shaped" climate patterns has yet to be accepted. Of particular interest is the most recent D-O shaped climate pattern that occurred from ∼ 14,600 to 11,500 years ago – the Bølling/Allerød (BA) warm interstadial and the subsequent Younger Dryas (YD) cold stadial. Unlike earlier D-O stadials, the YD is frequently considered a unique event, potentially resulting from a rerouting and/or flood of glacial meltwater into the North Atlantic, a meteorite impact, or a volcanic eruption. Yet, these mechanisms are seldom considered as the cause of the earlier stadials. Using a robust multivariate outlier detection scheme – a novel approach for traditional paleoclimate research – we show that the pattern of climate change during the BA/YD is not statistically different from the other D-O events in the Greenland record, and that it should not be considered unique when investigating the drivers of abrupt climate change. Our results thus raise important questions about the ability of glacial meltwater input and other "one off" events to trigger abrupt, centennial-to-millennial length, changes in climate.

Henry Nye and Alan Condron

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Henry Nye and Alan Condron

Henry Nye and Alan Condron


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