Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 212–220 | Cite as

Astronomically modulated late Pliocene equatorial Pacific climate transition and Northern Hemisphere ice sheet expansion

  • WenTao MaEmail author
  • Jun TianEmail author
  • QianYu Li
Articles Oceanology


The equatorial Pacific underwent a significant climate transition during the late Pliocene, which is characterized by cooling of global sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and formation of a marked SST gradient between the eastern and western equatorial Pacific. Moreover, this transition was nearly synchronous with the late Pliocene Northern Hemisphere glaciation. Probing the relationship among solar insolation, low and high latitude processes is the key to unravel the mechanism of this climate transition. A series of statistical methods were used in this study to analyze the orbital components of the equatorial Pacific SST and global ice volume records for the past 5 Ma. We found that integrated solar insolation rather than the monthly mean insolation is the primary external forcing of the late Pliocene climate transition, and that on orbital time scale the SSTs of the eastern and western equatorial Pacific display consistent change rather than a “seesaw” pattern. Changes of Earth’s orbital configuration have been responsible for this climate transition whereas the positive feedback effects of atmospheric CO2 concentration have further cooled the global climate since the early Cenozoic.


SST astronomical forcing equatorial Pacific late Pliocene insolation evolutive spectrum 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Marine GeologyTongji UniversityShanghaiChina

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