Possible role of dust-induced regional warming in abrupt climate change during the last glacial period

Jonathan Overpeck, David Rind, Andrew Lacis, Richard Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Scopus citations

Abstract

RECORDS from loess, sediments and ice cores indicate that the concentrations of tropospheric aerosols were higher in glacial periods than they are today, and that they peaked just before glacial terminations. Energy-balance models have suggested that these high glacial aerosol loadings were a source of glacial cooling of the order of 1-3 °C. Here we present a different view based on three-dimensional climate simulations, which suggest that high glacial dust loading may have caused significant, episodic regional warming of over 5 °C downwind of major Asian and ice-margin dust sources. Less warming was likely close to and over the oceans because of local cooling by sea-salt and marine sulphate aerosols. Abrupt changes in dust loading are associated with the Dansgaard-Oeschger and Heinrich climate events and with glacial termination, suggesting that dust-induced warming may have played a role in triggering these large shifts in Pleistocene climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-449
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume384
Issue number6608
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 5 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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