Study: Rapid climate changes across northern hemisphere in the earliest Middle Pleistocene

From KOBE UNIVERSITY and the “Yes Virginia, climate DOES change on it’s own accord” department.

By studying climate changes that took place thousands of years ago, we can better understand the global climate system and predict the Earth’s future climate. A multi-organization research team led by Professor HYODO Masayuki (Research Center for Inland Seas, Kobe University) has discovered evidence of rapid climate changes on a millennial-to-centennial scale that occurred 780 to 760 thousand years ago. The findings were published on August 30 in Scientific Reports.

LocATIONS: (a) Chiba section, Osaka Bay, North Pacific mid-latitude point (U1313). (b)(c) show the Chiba section location. (d) Location of core TB2 near the Chiba section along the Yoro River CREDIT Kobe University

During the 2.6 million year Quaternary Period, the climate repeated a glacial and interglacial cycle, caused by changes in the geographical distribution of solar radiation due to orbital changes including those of the Earth’s orbit and the tilt of its axis. These changes are regarded as “Milankovitch cycles”, over 20,000 years in period. But in the Holocene and last glacial periods, a number of millennial-to-centennial scale climate changes have been observed. Such rapid climate changes have scarcely been reported before the last glacial period.

In the interglacial period between 780 and 760 thousand years ago, the Earth’s orbital patterns were quite similar to the current (Holocene) era, so this interglacial climate could be useful in predicting the Earth’s future climate.

The research team focused on the Kazusa Group (Chiba prefecture, Japan), which has the fastest sedimentation rate in the world for strata of that era, and obtained high resolution paleoceanic environmental records every 10 years. When combined with records from Osaka Bay and the North Atlantic, they found evidence of multiple instances of rapid warming and cooling across all three regions at the same time. The data includes the unusual phenomenon of a rapid temperature rise with cyclicity suddenly finishing with a cold event. The cold events occurred at the same time as the great iceberg flow reached mid-latitudes in the North Atlantic, so they are thought to be caused by meltwater that covered the North Atlantic Ocean.

Figure 2: Records of Climate and Environment between 790 and 750,000 Years Ago in 3 Areas (a) Osaka Bay, (b, c) Chiba section, (d) North Pacific data. (e) shows the ice volume variations predicted from amount of solar radiation. MBB shows the geomagnetic reversal point (Matuyama-Brunhes Boundary). After geomagnetic reversal, in all three areas the same sea-level rise and climate warming event occurs 8 times (A-H). Around events G and H, Osaka Bay and surface water in the North Pacific shows the highest temperature rise. CREDIT Kobe University

This cyclic warming and rapid cooling repeated twice just after a geomagnetic reversal, a key event for the Early/Middle Pleistocene boundary, and a third time about 10 thousand years later. All occurred after the Earth had recovered its geomagnetic strength. This shows that the second half of this interglacial period, namely the earliest stage of the Middle Pleistocene, was a time of extreme climate change when ice sheets expanded and shrunk causing changes of several meters in sea levels, repeating every 500 to 2000 years.

Figure 3: Close-Up of Events A,B and G,H (a) Biogenic content on surface water (above) and anaerobic environment on the seabed (below). α and ε show the iceberg drift event in the North Pacific. Both arrows indicate the climate warming comprising four 200-year cycles. (b) is the data showing the Bond event in the Holocene Epoch. It resembles the climate warming at B, G, and H, but the Bond event is interpreted differently, as a climate cooling period.

The phenomenon of rapid temperature rises modulated by bi-centennial cycles ending with a sudden freeze only occurred during a very brief portion of this interglacial period, during the two warmest periods. There is a high possibility that this 200 year period marks the de Vries Cycle (205 years), when the climate was particularly sensitive to solar activity.

Researchers will now verify whether the same phenomenon can be observed in other regions. Evidence from the southern hemisphere will be the key to showing whether it was a global phenomenon. This discovery is very unusual among the climate warming that occurred in the past, as well as being an important key to learning about the diversity of temperature rises and understanding current global warming.

Additionally, this discovery was made in the Chiba Section (Japan), a candidate section for the Early/Middle Pleistocene era global boundary stratotype sections and points (GSSP), currently under review by the International Union of Geological Sciences. These findings provide further evidence for the academic value of the Chiba Section.

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69 thoughts on “Study: Rapid climate changes across northern hemisphere in the earliest Middle Pleistocene

    • Oh really, when they find the fossilized SUVs that the dinosaurs were riding around in, it will blow a hole in the “Comet Strike” theory of their demise.

      • The very first line of this piece says “From Kobe University”. I’m not a soopergenius like you, but from that, I figured out that this info probably came from someone who’s mother tongue was Japanese, before I even read any of it. (I briefly considered the possibility that Kobe Bryant had started a school that I hadn’t heard of, but naaaah)

        So, who’s being lazy here?

      • wws September 13, 2017 at 9:45 am

        So, who’s being lazy here?

        The Giant Walrus was complaining about pronouns on WUWT. He didn’t give any examples and he ignored the fact that the writing he was complaining about was done by someone not associated with WUWT in any manner. I would guess that The Giant Walrus was being lazy but maybe he has another explanation.

      • I assume that TGW is referring to the very obvious “it’s” (that should be “its”) in the first line.
        I wouldn’t have bothered commenting on it myself, this apostrophe-error is so common nowadays.
        However commieBob’s comment makes it more amusing. The error is in what’s clearly a leader line, added by Anthony or somebody else from WUWT. Is Anthony Japanese?

      • I think I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so. Someone can post the music video if they like.

      • If you didn’t spot the problem, which was not in the press release, but the WUWT leader line, then there’s no point in providing you with guidance in English-how-she-is-spoke.

      • wws: Did you mean, “someone whose mother tongue…”, as opposed to “someone who is mother tongue…”, which is what you wrote? And you clearly didn’t spot the error in the leader line. Time to bone up, so to speak.

      • I think it’s OK to point out solecisms in the head post, to enable their correction here, or the correction of the “base article” elsewhere, but only if it’s done unemotionally.

      • It’s helpful to suggest corrections to the head post, because usage errors there provide targets for jibes by our opponents, and diminish our credibility with fence-sitters.

      • This study has resolution down to the decade range, and it’s finding climate change at least as fast as todays.
        Beyond that, most proxy records can’t resolve below the centennial range, so there very well could have been changes much faster than today’s, but it won’t show up in the record.

        PS: 0.6C over 150 years is nothing.

      • “when did climate change more rapidly than today?”

        Many times, e. g. at the beginning and end of the Younger Dryas and, during the 8.2 KA event to name just a few cases.
        Even during the prevoius warmer Eemian interglacial there was a short mini-ice-age “the Mid Eemian cold event”

      • “where exactly in this paper do
        they find faster warming than
        today, 0.2 C/decade?”

        Would you rather the planet cooled at that rate?

      • Crackers,

        So many times that it’s hard to believe you haven’t heard of them.

        Nor is the globe warming as rapidly as you imagine now.

        But in the first half of the last century, it did so. At least twice in the 19th century. At least once in the 18th century and previously during the Little Ice Age. During the Egyptian, Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods and intervening cool periods. During the Holocene Climatic Optimum repeatedly. During the 8.2 Ka event and the Dryases and at the end of the LGM.

        This study shows, as if further evidence were needed, that the Younger Dryas was a normal event during a glacial termination. No need to hypothesize imaginary impacts.

      • There are several studies that suggest that climate changes in terms of decades or even years are as fast or faster than today. “As the world slid into and out of the last ice age, the general cooling and warming trends were punctuated by abrupt changes. Climate shifts up to half as large as the entire difference between ice age and modern conditions occurred over hemispheric or broader regions in mere years to decades.”
        http://www.pnas.org/content/97/4/1331.full
        “Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg have shown in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications that the temperature changes millions of years ago probably happened no more slowly than they are happening today.”
        https://phys.org/news/2015-11-global-fast-today.html

        Also the apparent glacial change that is purported is in fact an artifact of the measuring technique.
        https://phys.org/news/2015-11-ancient-climate-underestimated.html

      • There are several studies that suggest that climate changes in terms of decades or even years are as fast or faster than today. “As the world slid into and out of the last ice age, the general cooling and warming trends were punctuated by abrupt changes. Climate shifts up to half as large as the entire difference between ice age and modern conditions occurred over hemispheric or broader regions in mere years to decades.”
        http://www.pnas.org/content/97/4/1331.full
        “Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg have shown in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications that the temperature changes millions of years ago probably happened no more slowly than they are happening today.”
        https://phys.org/news/2015-11-global-fast-today.html

        Also the apparent glacial change that is purported is in fact an artifact of the measuring technique.
        https://phys.org/news/2015-11-ancient-climate-underestimated.html

      • There are several studies that suggest that climate changes in terms of decades or even years are as fast or faster than today. “As the world slid into and out of the last ice age, the general cooling and warming trends were punctuated by abrupt changes. Climate shifts up to half as large as the entire difference between ice age and modern conditions occurred over hemispheric or broader regions in mere years to decades.”
        http://www.pnas.org/content/97/4/1331.full
        “Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg have shown in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications that the temperature changes millions of years ago probably happened no more slowly than they are happening today.”
        https://phys.org/news/2015-11-global-fast-today.html

        Also the apparent glacial change that is purported is in fact an artifact of the measuring technique.
        https://phys.org/news/2015-11-ancient-climate-underestimated.html

      • crackers, do you have any evidence that the heating was helped by CO2? Or do you just assume it must have been because that’s what your church has instructed you to believe?

      • crackers345 September 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm

        We have not yet had a single 50 year interval in the Current Warm Period to equal at least three such periods in the Medieval WP.

        To take one of my more recent examples, the early 18th century warming was not only greater in amplitude but duration than the alleged warming since the PDO flip of 1977. Not surprising, coming out of the depths of the LIA during the Maunder Minimum.

        There has been no statistically significant warming at all in this century, except for the Super El Nino spike of 2015-16.

      • crackers345 September 13, 2017 at 12:42 pm

        NOAA surface is a pack of lies and RSS has joined the Borg. Only UAH is honest. And the balloons.

      • Crackers
        You hide behind the low resolution and other difficulties associated with palaeo data compared with hogh resolution modern instrumental data.

        In doing so you join the camp of the 6-day creationists who also say “you cant trust palaeo data, just our own eyes and the good book”.

        The multitude of warmist arguments about the uniqueness of modern warming are a refined version of the Gish Gallop.

      • markw – there is an enormous amount of evidence
        for co2’s role….
        are you seriously
        telling me that you don’t think there is such warming,
        but you have not looked at
        the evidence??

      • >> Trend is 0.12 degrees C per decade since 1979, but before the Super El Nino, it was 0.07: <<

        nope. uah trend up to end of 2014 was 0.11 C/dec. easy
        to calculate

      • crackers345 September 14, 2017 at 6:45 am

        You really don’t know all that is wrong with the so-called “surface data sets”? It would take a whole post here just to scratch the surface.

        It has nothing to do with my “prejudices”. It has everything to do with the fact that GISS and HadCRU don’t practice science.

        As for the Medieval WP, please see Manley’s reconstructed CET series, as for example in Lamb.

        https://climateaudit.org/2008/05/09/where-did-ipcc-1990-figure-7c-come-from-httpwwwclimateauditorgp3072previewtrue/

        Since you now acknowledge that all “data sets” show less than 0.2 degrees C gain per decade, why did you cite that false figure? Trend line analyses can derive slightly different rates, but none is that rapid.

        But more importantly, GASTA has not significantly warmed, if at all, in this century. Whatever warming there actually was after 1977 has stopped. And of course, earth cooled dramatically while CO2 was rising in the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

      • Steam is the real bad boy in this discussion. 30x more potent effect as a GHG than CO2. Evil it was that British Empire. Wish the Luddites had won. ;-)

    • I believe it is used in the context of changing faster than what climate science says happened in the last 150 years. It’s also rate of change.

      A rapid temperature change is weather. A rapid change in the average temperature over a longer period of time is climate. Mostly, it’s whatever someone says it is.

      • Sheri,

        Yes, in Climate Science, ‘rapid’ is relative. ‘rapid’ ‘over a longer period of time’ is kind of dysfunctional/confused/unscientific. Oh well. Hurricanes!

        Andrew

  1. 790-776 Kyr BP correspond to the MIS19 interglacial, the closest astronomical analogue to the Holocene. They are observing centennial to millennial climate changes exactly the same we are experiencing in the Holocene. It is interesting. The only surprising thing is that they get so much resolution so long ago.

    • Agreed. Per the paper, “The orbitally tuned high-resolution diatom record obtained from a core sequence with a mean a.r. of 63 cm/ka in Osaka Bay, Southwest Japan13, provides several coherent sea-level proxies, among which the salinity estimated from diatom assemblage data is most comprehensive (Fig. 1h). Another high-resolution record, planktic δ18O obtained at 1-cm depth resolution from IODP site U1313, reveals detailed paleoceanographic variations in the mid-latitude North Atlantic12 (Fig. 1i).” I am not a researcher, but with proxies I always question temporal resolution; in my first glance at the paper I did not see any mention of potential error ranges. (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-10552-2)

      • That sample resolution surprised me too, but an earlier paper describing the core recovery and analysis looks like they took care to correlate the stratigraphy with other dated O18 records. I also am concerned about bioturbation mixing the sediments after deposition. It appears, however, that the site may have been anoxic much of the time which reduces the smearing of information over time intervals. This core looks like it may be very informative.

      • Even small error ranges make such an old time period a moving target. The best ice cores have an error range of 2-6%, which translates to 1000 ± 20 years to 100,000 ± 6,000 years. Other proxies have higher error ranges which means we could be talking 770,000 ± 80,000 years which essentially means you might be in the wrong interglacial unless you have anchors in the data that allow astronomical tuning, or geomagnetic reversals anchoring, to reduce the error propagation.

    • Javier
      The only surprising thing is that they get so much resolution so long ago.

      They explain that the exceptionally fast sedimentation rates in the Chiba Prefecture allow this resolution.

  2. Problems with pronouns? The only changes I can see are needed are “it’s” to “its” in the first line, and “climate warming” to climate warmings” in the penultimate paragraph (there have been many warmings – plural needed). I won’t quibble about the spelling of “meters” – after all that Webster fellow deliberately distorted the spelling of American English.

    Pedant!

  3. What we have here is artifacts that, properly reassembled, could add up to a Marcott Hockey Stick. Pick one of the graphs, or better yet, combine them all, and be sure to understate the uncertainty. Truncate all but the last 10,000 years, and then append high resolution thermometric data. Adjust the vertical scales, if needed. That should do it.

  4. “Such rapid climate changes have scarcely been reported before the last glacial period.”

    Yes, because the temporal resolution of the paleo data starts to drop off sharply beyond the last interglacial period and the short term variations get averaged out in the data. We also see more short term variability in DomeC than in Vostok because the temporal resolution of the DomeC data is significantly finer than that of Vostok.

  5. This study was the first study in a long time that referenced the De Vries Solar Cycle. One full De Vries Cycle lasts roughly 400 years (200 positive, followed by 200 negative). We are coming to the end of the positive cycle

  6. Old proxy data tends to be smoothed to some degree. I have seen evidence that even tree ring thickness can even out over long periods of time. The smoothing effect acts like a low pass FIR filter applied to the data. The one takeaway is that any rates they calculate from the data are lower bounds (unless they tried to estimate the FIR filter and invert it). Actual rates are almost certainly higher.

  7. ‘predict the Earth’s future climate’

    The earth doesn’t have a climate, it has many. And predictions of the future are difficult.

    Climate ‘scientists’ show they have a sense of humor by using decimal points.

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