• abrupt future climate change;
  • El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO);
  • Southern Ocean;
  • Southern Hemisphere westerlies;
  • thermohaline circulation


Future projections of climate suggest our planet is moving into a ‘super-interglacial’. Here we report a global synthesis of ice, marine and terrestrial data from a recent palaeoclimate equivalent, the Last Interglacial (ca. 130–116 ka ago). Our analysis suggests global temperatures were on average ∼1.5°C higher than today (relative to the AD 1961–1990 period). Intriguingly, we identify several Indian Ocean Last Interglacial sequences that suggest persistent early warming, consistent with leakage of warm, saline waters from the Agulhas Current into the Atlantic, intensifying meridional ocean circulation and increasing global temperatures. This mechanism may have played a significant positive feedback role during super-interglacials and could become increasingly important in the future. These results provide an important insight into a future 2°C climate stabilisation scenario. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.