Persistence of full glacial conditions in the central Pacific until 15,000 years ago.

Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Géosciences de l'Environnement, CNRS-Aix Marseille Université, 13545 Aix en Provence, France.
Nature (Impact Factor: 38.6). 11/2007; 449(7162):591-4. DOI: 10.1038/nature06142
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The magnitude of atmospheric cooling during the Last Glacial Maximum and the timing of the transition into the current interglacial period remain poorly constrained in tropical regions, partly because of a lack of suitable climate records. Glacial moraines provide a method of reconstructing past temperatures, but they are relatively rare in the tropics. Here we present a reconstruction of atmospheric temperatures in the central Pacific during the last deglaciation on the basis of cosmogenic 3He ages of moraines and numerical modelling of the ice cap on Mauna Kea volcano, Hawaii--the only highland in the central Pacific on which moraines that formed during the last glacial period are preserved. Our reconstruction indicates that the Last Glacial Maximum occurred between 19,000 and 16,000 years ago in this region and that temperatures at high elevations were about 7 degrees C lower than today during this interval. Glacial retreat began about 16,000 years ago, but temperatures were still about 6.5 degrees C lower than today until 15,000 years ago. When combined with estimates of sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean, our reconstruction indicates that the lapse rate during the Last Glacial Maximum was higher than at present, which is consistent with the proposal that the atmosphere was drier at that time. Furthermore, the persistence of full glacial conditions until 15,000 years ago is consistent with the relatively late and abrupt transition to warmer temperatures in Greenland, indicating that there may have been an atmospheric teleconnection between the central Pacific and North Atlantic regions during the last deglaciation.

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