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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-52
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-52
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  24 Apr 2020

24 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Reconstructing the Evolution of Ice Sheets, Sea Level and Atmospheric CO2 During the Past 3.6 Million Years

Constantijn J. Berends1, Bas de Boer2, and Roderik S. W. van de Wal1,3 Constantijn J. Berends et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2Earth and Climate Cluster, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 3Faculty of Geosciences, Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Understanding the evolution of, and the interactions between, ice sheets and the global climate over geological time is important for being able to constrain earth system sensitivity. However, direct observational evidence of past CO2 concentrations only exists for the past 800 000 years. Records of benthic δ18O date back millions of years, but contain signals from both land ice volume and ocean temperature. In recent years, inverse forward modelling has been developed as a method to disentangle these two signals, resulting in mutually consistent reconstructions of ice volume, temperature and CO2. We use this approach to force a hybrid ice-sheet – climate model with a benthic δ18O stack, reconstructing the evolution of the ice sheets, global mean sea level and atmospheric CO2 during the late Pliocene and the Pleistocene, from 3.6 million years (Myr) ago to the present day. During the warmer-than-present climates of the Late Pliocene, reconstructed CO2 varies widely, from 320–440 ppmv for warm periods such as Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) KM5c, to 235–250 ppmv for the MIS M2 glacial excursion. Sea level is relatively stable during this period, with a high stand of 6–14 m, and a drop of 12–26 m during MIS M2. Both CO2 and sea level are within the wide ranges of values covered by available proxy data for this period. Our results for the Pleistocene agree well with the ice-core CO2 record, as well as with different available sea-level proxy data. During the early Pleistocene, 2.6–1.2 Myr ago, we simulate 40 kyr glacial cycles, with interglacial CO2 decreasing from 280–300 ppmv at the beginning of the Pleistocene, to 250–280 ppmv just before the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT). Peak glacial CO2 decreases from 220–250 ppmv to 205–225 ppmv during this period. After the MPT, when the glacial cycles change from 40 kyr to 80/120 kyr cyclicity, the glacial-interglacial contrast increases, with interglacial CO2 varying between 250–320 ppmv, and peak glacial values decreasing to 170–210 ppmv.

Constantijn J. Berends et al.

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Berends_etal_2020_supplement C. J. Berends, B. de Boer, and R. S. W. van de Wal https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3534940

Constantijn J. Berends et al.

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Latest update: 05 Aug 2020
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Short summary
For the past 2.6 million years, the Earth has experienced glacial cycles, where vast ice sheets periodically grew to cover large parts of North America and Eurasia. In the earlier part of this period, this happened every 40 000 years. 1.2 Million years ago this value changed to 100 000 years: the Mid-Pleistocene Transition. We investigate this interesting period using an ice-sheet model, studying the interactions between ice sheets and the global climate during this interesting period.
For the past 2.6 million years, the Earth has experienced glacial cycles, where vast ice sheets...
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