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Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 291–295 | Cite as

Abrupt climate change around 4 ka BP: Role of the Thermohaline circulation as indicated by a GCM experiment

  • Wang Shaowu 
  • Zhou Tianjun 
  • Cai Jingning 
  • Zhu Jinhong 
  • Xie Zhihui 
  • Gong Daoyi 
Article

Abstract

A great deal of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic evidence suggests that a predominant temperature drop and an aridification occurred at ca. 4.0 ka BP. Palaeoclimate studies in China support this dedution. The collapse of ancient civilizations at ca. 4.0 ka BP in the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia has been attributed to climate-induced aridification. A widespread alternation of the ancient cultures was also found in China at ca. 4.0 ka BP in concert with the collapse of the civilizations in the Old World. Palaeoclimatic studies indicate that the abrupt climate change at 4.0 ka BP is one of the realizations of the cold phase in millennial scale climate oscillations, which may be related to the modulation of the Thermohaline Circulation (THC) over the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, this study conducts a numerical experiment of a GCM with SST forcing to simulate the impact of the weakening of the THC. Results show a drop in temperature from North Europe, the northern middle East Asia, and northern East Asia and a significant reduction of precipitation in East Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Peninsula, and the Yellow River Valley. This seems to support the idea that coldness and aridification at ca. 4.0 ka BP was caused by the weakening of the THC.

Key words

abrupt climate change 4 ka BP thermohaline circulation collapse of ancient civilization 

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Copyright information

© Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wang Shaowu 
    • 1
  • Zhou Tianjun 
    • 2
  • Cai Jingning 
    • 1
  • Zhu Jinhong 
    • 1
  • Xie Zhihui 
    • 1
  • Gong Daoyi 
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric Sciences, School of PhysicsPeking UniversityBeijing
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijing
  3. 3.Key Lab of Environmental Change and Natural Disaster, Ministry of Education, Institute of Resources ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityBeijing

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