Understanding the Extent and Causes of Abrupt Climate Change



Nearly 100 scientists working in disciplines ranging from atmospheric and marine chemistry, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, and paleoclimate model-data comparison to archaeology attended a weeklong Chapman Conference on abrupt climate change. The basic purpose of the conference was to understand the spatiotemporal extent of abrupt climate change and the forcings behind it.

Most of the presenters demonstrated that regardless of whether the paleorecords were from lakes, cave formations (speleothems), ice cores, or marine sediments, abrupt climate change was a recurrent phenomenon at least during the last glacial-interglacial climate cycle (11.6–130 thousand years ago). Whether such recurrent events occurred during previous glacial cycles is not well documented due to the scarcity of very long paleorecords with the requisite spatial and temporal resolution. Participants noted that the number of paleorecords from the Southern Hemisphere irrespective of glacial cycles was very low and stressed the need to increase efforts to acquire more paleorecords from the Southern Hemisphere.