Glacial-Interglacial Cycles

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The dominant mode of climate variabiity during the Quaternary/Pleistocene has been characterised by ~100,000 year oscillations between glacial- and interglacial climate states.  It seems clear that these climate cycles have been paced by changes in the seasonality of solar radiation (i.e. insolation), but it is also clear that this pacing was made possible, and was amplified by strong positive feedbacks internal to the climate system.  Albedo- (ice sheet) and carbon cycle (i.e. carbon dioxide) feedbacks appear to have been foremost amongst the contributing feedbacks.  Despite over a century of research, it remains unclear exactly how these feedbacks were triggered and coordinated by insolation changes.  Ongoing research is seeking to address just this question, and to use the ‘zoo’ of past glacial and interglacial climate states as a natural laboratory in which to investigate the context dependence of climate feedbacks, which ultimately must underpin the non-linearity that Quaternary glacial-interglacial dynamics exemplify.


PIGS Working Group (2016) Interglacials of the last 800,000 years. Reviews of Geophysics, 54 (1). pp. 162-219. ISSN 8755-1209 DOI 10.1002/2015RG000482

Tzedakis, P. C. and Wolff, E. W. and Skinner, L. C. and Brovkin, V. and Hodell, D. A. and McManus, J. F. and Raynaud, D.(2012) Can we predict the duration of an interglacial? Climate of the past, 8 (5). pp. 1473-1485. ISSN 1814-9340 DOI 10.5194/cp-8-1473-2012

Tzedakis, P. C. and Channell, J. E. T. and Hodell, D. A. and Kleiven, H. F. and Skinner, L. C. (2012) Determining the natural length of the current interglacial. Nature Geoscience, 5 (2). pp. 138-141. ISSN 1752-0894 EISSN:1752-0908 DOI 10.1038/ngeo1358

Skinner, L. (2012) A Long View on Climate Sensitivity. Science, 337 (6097). pp. 917-919. ISSN 0036-8075 DOI 10.1126/science.1224011

Skinner, L. C. (2009). Glacial – interglacial atmospheric CO2 change: A possible standing volume effect on deep-ocean carbon sequestration, Climate of the Past, 5, 1259-1296.

Skinner, L. C. and Shackleton, N. J. (2005) An Atlantic lead over Pacific deep-water change across Termination I: implications for the application of the marine isotope stage stratigraphy. Quaternary Science Reviews, 24. pp. 571-580. DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2004.11.008