Climate Dynamics

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 133-143

First online:

Statistical detection of the mid-Pleistocene transition

  • KA MaaschAffiliated withDept. of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University

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Using statistical methods we have shown quantitatively that the transition in mean and variance observed inδ 18O records during the middle of the Pleistocene was abrupt. By applying these methods to all of the available records spanning the entire Pleistocene it appears that this jump was global and primarily represents an increase in ice mass. At roughly the same time an abrupt decrease in sea surface temperature also occurred, indicative of sudden global cooling. This kind of evidence suggests a possible bifurcation of the climate system that must be accounted for in a complete explanation of the ice ages. Theoretical models including internal dynamics are capable of exhibiting this kind of rapid transition.