Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient pool of warm water questions current climate models

Date:
April 3, 2013
Source:
University College London
Summary:
A huge pool of warm water that stretched out from Indonesia over to Africa and South America four million years ago suggests climate models might be too conservative in forecasting tropical changes. Present in the Pliocene era, this giant mass of water would have dramatically altered rainfall in the tropics, possibly even removing the monsoon. Its decay and the consequential drying of East Africa may have been a factor in Hominid evolution. The missing data for this phenomenon could have significant implications when predicting the future climate.

Ocean. When analysing all the available sea surface temperature records spanning the past five million years, scientists found that none of the currently proposed mechanisms can account for such conditions in the Pliocene, when tested using a climate model.
Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan

A huge pool of warm water that stretched out from Indonesia over to Africa and South America four million years ago suggests climate models might be too conservative in forecasting tropical changes.

Present in the Pliocene era, this giant mass of water would have dramatically altered rainfall in the tropics, possibly even removing the monsoon. Its decay and the consequential drying of East Africa may have been a factor in Hominid evolution.

Published in Nature today, the missing data for this phenomenon could have significant implications when predicting the future climate.

When analysing all the available sea surface temperature records spanning the past five million years, the international team -- with academics from UCL and Yale -- found that none of the currently proposed mechanisms can account for such conditions in the Pliocene, when tested using a climate model.

"Essentially, we've looked at a warm world in the past and it shows changes in the pattern of tropical sea surface temperatures. We've analysed all the existing theories to explain this vast pool of ancient warm water, and even in combination they can't explain something as odd as this," said Dr Chris Brierley (UCL Geography), a co-author of the paper.

Occurring between three and five million years ago, the Pliocene was the last time the world was in a steady climate that was warmer, and with a carbon dioxide level higher than the conditions that existed before the Industrial Revolution. As a result, it has attracted strong attention as a possible basis for future climate conditions once carbon dioxide levels have been stabilized.

The three critical conditions that defined the tropical Pliocene climate were:

  • Evidence of the maximum ocean temperature not being much warmer;
  • Reduced east-west temperate differences; and
  • Weaker north-south differences in the tropics.

It is these three conditions that the team say that any future efforts at modelling the past must explain.

"An important question is how much the evidence of climate evolution over the last five million years shapes our assessment of future change. From these observations, it is clear that the climate system is capable of remarkable transformations even with small changes in external parameters such as carbon dioxide," said Dr Brierley.

"Therefore, explaining the discrepancy between model simulations and the early Pliocene temperature patterns is essential for building confidence in our climate projections.

"In many ways, this work on past climates is part of understanding the uncertainty of future climate. It can give us a heads-up of potential climates that we hadn't imagined possible before." added Dr Brierley.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. V. Fedorov, C. M. Brierley, K. T. Lawrence, Z. Liu, P. S. Dekens, A. C. Ravelo. Patterns and mechanisms of early Pliocene warmth. Nature, 2013; 496 (7443): 43 DOI: 10.1038/nature12003

Cite This Page:

University College London. "Ancient pool of warm water questions current climate models." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403131352.htm>.
University College London. (2013, April 3). Ancient pool of warm water questions current climate models. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403131352.htm
University College London. "Ancient pool of warm water questions current climate models." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403131352.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Ancient Climate Questions Could Improve Today's Climate Predictions

Apr. 3, 2013 Climate models for the early Pliocene might be missing key processes. If researchers can uncover these missing processes, they can apply them to models of modern climate and improve future climate ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins