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Global Climates since the Last Glacial Maximum

Global Climates since the Last Glacial Maximum

H. E. Wright
J. E. Kutzbach
T. Webb
W. F. Ruddiman
F. A. Street-Perrott
P. J. Bartlein
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 584
  • Book Info
    Global Climates since the Last Glacial Maximum
    Book Description:

    Summarizes much of the geologic, paleoecologic, and oceanographic evidence for global environmental and climactic changes during the last 18,000 years.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8462-5
    Subjects: Physics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)
    H. E. Wright Jr.

    Ever since the introduction and acceptance of the concept of continental glaciation, geologists and paleoecologists have been trying to decipher the sequence and chronology of glacial and interglacial climates—and the cause or causes of these conditions, which apparently affected the entire globe. Regarding chronology, the time elapsed since the last glaciation was calculated in Europe from the Swedish varve chronology and in America from rates of waterfall retreat. The duration of glacial and interglacial intervals was estimated generally from the thickness of soils formed on glacial tills. But regarding causes, numerous theories were introduced, but no consensus developed.


  5. CHAPTER 2 Conceptual Basis for Understanding Late-Quaternary Climates
    (pp. 5-11)
    J. E. Kutzbach and T. Webb III

    The geological records of past climates are stored in many localities across the earth’s surface from the bottoms of the oceans to the tops of ice sheets and mountains, and the collection and correct interpretation of these data present a challenge to field and laboratory researchers. Paleoclimatologists face wide gaps in coverage and seemingly contradictory information from different types of data. A general understanding of the climate system is therefore required to help bridge the gaps and resolve the contradictions, and this understanding can be articulated as either qualitative concepts or formal mathematical models.

    This book focuses on a series...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Model Description, External Forcing, and Surface Boundary Conditions
    (pp. 12-23)
    J. E. Kutzbach and W. F. Ruddiman

    Atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) are typically used in paleoclimatic studies for two purposes: (1) to generate simulations of atmospheric circulation during times in the past when geologic data provide reasonable constraints on critical boundary conditions at the earth’s surface (such as ice-sheet size, land albedo, and sea-surface temperatures), and (2) to test the sensitivity of the simulations by altering key features of the climate system one at a time to isolate their unique impact on the atmospheric circulation and climate patterns. Sensitivity tests thus do not necessarily represent climatic configurations that actually existed at any time in the past....

  7. CHAPTER 4 Simulated Climatic Changes: Results of the COHMAP Climate-Model Experiments
    (pp. 24-93)
    J. E. Kutzbach, P. J. Guetter, P. J. Behling and R. Selin

    Until about 15 yr ago, most theoretical work concerning past climates was derived from conceptual models of climatic change and involved either qualitative reasoning from simple models or interpretation of the geologic record. The recent development of general circulation models (GCMs) for the atmosphere and oceans has permitted quantitative paleoclimatic modeling and thus has led to a major advance in theoretical studies. With the advent of supercomputers, climate modelers gained the ability to make the large number of calculations required for paleoclimatic studies.

    The first experiments with GCMs for the climate of 18 ka were those of Williamset al....

  8. CHAPTER 5 The North and Equatorial Atlantic at 9000 and 6000 yr B.P
    (pp. 94-124)
    W. F. Ruddiman and A. C. Mix

    In this chapter we examine North Atlantic and equatorial Atlantic cores for which estimates of sea-surface temperature (SST) are available for 9000 and 6000 yr B.P. and compare those estimates to modern (atlas or core-top) temperatures. Modern SST trends for summer and winter in the world ocean are shown in Figure 5.1. Over long time scales (more than 10,000 yr), the most thermally reactive areas of the North Atlantic Ocean are the high latitudes (40-60°N), the coastal upwelling regions, and the equatorial divergences, as shown by maps of differences between glacial and interglacial SSTs (Fig. 5.2). Most of the Atlantic...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Holocene Temperature Patterns in the South Atlantic, Southern, and Pacific Oceans
    (pp. 125-135)
    Joseph J. Morley and Beth A. Dworetzky

    In this chapter we examine Holocene sea-surface temperature (SST) records generated from analyses of marine siliceous microfaunal assemblages. These studies were conducted on sediments from gravity and piston cores taken from the South Atlantic, Southern, and Pacific oceans. We compare temperature estimates for both 6000 and 9000 yr B.P. with modern (atlas) and core-top SSTs. These data, when combined with comparison studies of cores from the North Atlantic Ocean, provide a basis for assessing the degree of difference between SSTs in the middle and early Holocene and those observed today.

    Unlike many nonmarine data bases, few well-dated marine sequences of...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Holocene Vegetation and Climates of Europe
    (pp. 136-168)
    Brian Huntley and I. Colin Prentice

    Plant distributions, and the competitive balance among plant species, respond sensitively to changes in summer warmth, winter cold, and moisture balance. The responses are individualistic in the sense that no two taxa have identical responses to these climate variables. Climatic changes during the Quaternary have continually reshuffled the species mix, resulting in large and incongruent changes in the areas occupied by different species and changes in the composition of the vegetation types that dominate the landscape (Huntley and Webb, 1988). These changes are recorded in pollen diagrams, which provide a starting point for the reconstruction and explanation of past climates....

  11. CHAPTER 8 Vegetational and Climatic History of the Western Former Soviet Union
    (pp. 169-193)
    G. M. Peterson

    The area occupied by the former Soviet Union represents about one-sixth of the earth’s land surface and includes both a wide variety of climatic zones and the geographic range limits of many tree genera. West of 100°E the topography is relatively flat, and the Russian Plain is separated from the West Siberian Lowland by the Ural Mountains at 60°E (Fig. 8.1). These vast plains in the western former Soviet Union have yielded a substantial record of Holocene movements in major forest tree genera (Peterson, 1983a). The eastern half of the region is mountainous and has provided few well-dated Holocene pollen...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Vegetational, Lake-Level, and Climatic History of the Near East and Southwest Asia
    (pp. 194-220)
    Neil Roberts and H. E. Wright Jr.

    Late-Quaternary paleoclimatic data available for southwest Asia and the Near East are outstanding neither in quality nor in quantity. Nonetheless this region, which for the present purpose includes the Arabian peninsula, the Levant, Anatolia, Iraq, Iran, Greece, Caucasia, and parts of south and central Asia, is potentially of great significance in any global reconstruction of Holocene climates by virtue of its strategic position at the junction of three continents. The records of Holocene climate and environment from Europe and Africa in particular are relatively rich and internally consistent (see Huntley and Prentice [this vol.] and Street-Perrott and Perrott [this vol.])...

  13. CHAPTER 10 The Late-Quaternary Vegetation and Climate of China
    (pp. 221-264)
    Marjorie G. Winkler and Pao K. Wang

    Recent geologic, palynologic, and archaeologic studies in China provide much evidence for the paleoenvironmental changes that have taken place during the late Pleistocene and the Holocene. Many studies have been translated into English and published in synthesis volumes (Whyte, 1984a,b; Liu, 1985a,b; Walker, 1986) or have been summarized (Shihet al.,1979; Verstappen, 1980; Wang, 1984a; Yang and Xie, 1984; Zhang Lansheng, 1984; Wang and Fan, 1987; Liu, 1988; Fang, 1991; Sun and Chen, 1991; and others). In this chapter we (1) review the biogeologic evidence from China in light of paleoecologic and paleoclimatologic findings from other regions of the...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Climates of Australia and New Guinea since 18,000 yr B.P
    (pp. 265-293)
    Sandy P. Harrison and John Dodson

    In this chapter we reconstruct the hydrological and vegetational changes in Australia and Papua New Guinea during the last 18,000 yr from the evidence of changes in lake levels and pollen assemblages at a network of sites over the continent. We interpret the inferred hydrological and vegetational changes in terms of regional climatic changes. We then compare the climatic reconstructions with general circulation model (GCM) simulations to see how far the inferred changes in climatic variables can be explained by the effects of known changes in insolation and alterations in the size of the ice sheets as simulated in the...

  15. CHAPTER 12 Paleovegetation Studies of New Zealand’s Climate since the Last Glacial Maximum
    (pp. 294-317)
    Matt S. McGlone, M. Jim Salinger and Neville T. Moar

    New Zealand is one of the few sizable landmasses in the Southern Ocean south of 35°S. Lying just poleward of the subtropical convergence, with its southern half embedded in the circumpolar westerly vortex, it is uniquely placed to record climatic changes in this vast expanse of ocean.

    The pollen record of vegetation change in New Zealand provides good coverage of the Holocene and late Pleistocene, and several records extend back to 14,000-17,000 yr B.P. Despite the prevailing warm to cool-temperate oceanic climate of New Zealand, the pollen profiles record vegetation changes similar in magnitude to those from continental regions. Quantification...

  16. CHAPTER 13 Holocene Vegetation, Lake Levels, and Climate of Africa
    (pp. 318-356)
    F. Alayne Street-Perrot and R. A. Perrott

    Africa, the world’s second largest landmass, sits astride the equator. It spans a range of latitudes from 37°N near Tunis to 34.5°S at Cape Agulhas and is topographically more uniform than any other continent. Apart from restricted highland areas in the Atlas Mountains (highest peak 4165 m above sea level), the central Sahara (Tibesti Mountains, 3415 m), West Africa (Mount Cameroon, 4095 m), Ethiopia (Ras Dashan, 4543 m), East Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro, 5895 m), and the eastern escarpment of southern Africa (Thabana Ntlenyana, 3484 m), the vast majority of the continent lies below 2000 m. Because of the restricted extent...

  17. CHAPTER 14 Climatic History of Central and South America since 18,000 yr B.P.: Comparison of Pollen Records and Model Simulations
    (pp. 357-385)
    Vera Markgraf

    This chapter documents the paleoclimatic history of Central and South America derived from pollen and lake-level records and compares it with results from paleoclimatic modeling experiments based on the general circulation model (GCM) of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Because the GCM results are analyzed at 3000-yr intervals over the last 18,000 yr, I discuss the pollen and lake-level data in the same time resolution.

    Sixty pollen records (up to 1987) fulfill the requirements of continuity and chronological control imposed in this synthesis: nine from tropical and subtropical lowlands in Central and South America; five from the Central...

  18. CHAPTER 15 Holocene Vegetation and Climate Histories of Alaska
    (pp. 386-400)
    Patricia M. Anderson and Linda B. Brubaker

    The history of Beringia, comprising northeasternmost Asia, northwesternmost North America, and the land bridge joining the two continents, has sparked the imagination of Quaternary scientists for decades. This history is a central theme of several books (Hopkins, 1967; Hopkinset al.,1982; Kontrimavichus, 1984), which focus primarily on reconstructing late-Pleistocene environments and presenting guidelines for subsequent research in Alaska. Interest in the Alaskan Holocene was not pronounced until the 1970s, and regional syntheses have only recently been published (e.g., Ager, 1983; Ager and Brubaker, 1985; Barnoskyet al.,1987). The data and ideas in this chapter are current to 1986....

  19. CHAPTER 16 Vegetation, Lake Levels, and Climate in Western Canada during the Holocene
    (pp. 401-414)
    J. C. Ritchie and S. P. Harrison

    The western interior of Canada extends from the Ontario-Manitoba boundary and the west coast of Hudson Bay to roughly the Rocky Mountain foothills and includes most of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories (mainland). This large landmass (about 3 million km²) has the lowest density of Holocene pollen sites in North America, in part because of difficult access. Similarly, we found useful data in the literature for only 12 lake basins.

    The region consists of a vast plain sloping toward the east, from the Cordilleran foothills at about 2000 m to sea level at Hudson Bay. It is divisible...

  20. CHAPTER 17 Vegetation, Lake Levels, and Climate in Eastern North America for the Past 18,000 Years
    (pp. 415-467)
    Thompson Webb III, Patrick J. Bartlein, Sandy P. Harrison and Katherine H. Anderson

    Climatologists face the challenge of understanding regional-scale climate change as the outcome of an interplay of global-scale controls, whereas palynologists and geomorphologists face the problem of extracting a regional-scale signal from data that often record local events. Climatologists, therefore, often work topdown and use global climate models to simulate regional patterns. In contrast, geologists proceed from the bottom up and use statistical analyses and maps of their data to synthesize regional patterns from irregularly spaced individual records. Such simulations and analyses have been completed for eastern North America, and we compare the results.

    During the past 18,000 yr the major...

  21. CHAPTER 18 Climatic Changes in the Western United States since 18,000 yr B.P.
    (pp. 468-513)
    Robert S. Thompson, Cathy Whitlock, Patrick J. Bartlein, Sandy P. Harrison and W. Geoffrey Spaulding

    The physiography of the western United States is characterized by high relief (Fig. 18.1) and a wide variety of landforms, including massive mountains, smaller fault-block ranges, and broad dissected plateaus. Today this region has a wide range of seasonal climates resulting from the overlap of climatic gradients related to North Pacific (winter) and subtropical (summer) moisture sources. The variety of environmental settings, coupled with the absence of a uniform source of paleoclimatic data, makes it difficult to reconstruct past climatic conditions in quantitative terms. It is possible, however, to identify large-scale qualitative patterns in western paleoclimates.

    This chapter summarizes the...

  22. CHAPTER 19 Climatic Changes during the Past 18,000 Years: Regional Syntheses, Mechanisms, and Causes
    (pp. 514-535)
    Thompson Webb III, William F. Ruddiman, F. Alayne Street-Perrott, Vera Markgraf, John E. Kutzbach, Patrick J. Bartlein, H. E. Wright Jr. and Warren L. Prell

    Few periods of the earth’s history have recorded climatic changes as large as those of the past 18,000 yr. At high to middle latitudes, large temperature changes dominated and were accompanied by major changes in atmospheric circulation and moisture balance. In the tropics, moisture variations dominated, resulting from variations in the monsoonal circulations. The data show that the timing, character, and patterns of climate changes have varied regionally. Understanding the relation of this regional variation to the changing global controls poses a fascinating problem in climatology, which COHMAP research (described in the preceding chapters) has been designed to help solve....

  23. CHAPTER 20 Epilogue
    (pp. 536-542)
    J. E. Kutzbach, P. J. Bartlein, I. C. Prentice, W. F Ruddiman, F. A. Street-Perrott, T. Webb III and H. E. Wright Jr.

    This book presents the results of a sequence of paleoclimatic modeling experiments and compares them with paleoenvironmental data. We used the modeling experiments to illustrate how slowly changing external and internal boundary conditions have induced major changes in global climates since the last glacial maximum. We also compiled and described the available data sets and introduced methods to allow clear comparisons of the data and the model results. New developments now make it important to repeat the experiments with improved boundary conditions and upgraded, higher-resolution climate models, to expand the data sets, and to improve the methods for data-model comparisons....

  24. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 543-546)
  25. Index
    (pp. 547-569)