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Tropical Ocean Temperatures Over the Past 3.5 Million Years

Fig. 1. SST and core location map Tropical Ocean Temperatures Over the Past 3.5 Million Years
Vol. 328, no. 5985, pp. 1530-1534, 18 June 2010
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185435

Timothy D. Herbert1, Laura Cleaveland Peterson2, Kira T. Lawrence3, Zhonghui Liu4
1Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA
2Environmental Studies, Luther College, 700 College Drive, Decorah, IA 52101, USA
3Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Lafayette College, Easton, PA 18042, USA.
4Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, James Lee Science Building, Pokefulam Road, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China
Determining the timing and amplitude of tropical sea surface temperature (SST) change is an important part of solving the puzzle of the Plio-Pleistocene ice ages. Alkenone-based tropical SST records from the major ocean basins show coherent glacial- interglacial temperature changes of 1° to 3°C that align with (but slightly lead) global changes in ice volume and deep ocean temperature over the past 3.5 million years. Tropical temperatures became tightly coupled with benthic d18O and orbital forcing after 2.7 million years. We interpret the similarity of tropical SST changes, in dynamically dissimilar regions, to reflect "top-down" forcing through the atmosphere. The inception of a strong carbon dioxide-greenhouse gas feedback and amplification of orbital forcing at ~2.7 million years ago connected the fate of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets with global ocean temperatures since that time.

Download data from the WDC Paleo archive:
Plio-Pleistocene Tropical Alkenone SST Reconstructions, Text or Excel.

To read or view the full study, please visit the Science website.
It was published in Science, Vol. 328, no. 5985, pp. 1530-1534, 18 June 2010
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185435
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