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The mystery of Holocene temperature evolution

Presented by Nick McKay, Northern Arizona University

A key question of paleoclimatology — Has global temperature generally warmed or cooled during the Holocene? — remains open. Paleoclimate records and evidence from glacial geology, paleoecology and more have long suggested warmer climates in the early Holocene (ca. 10–6 ka). However, records of climate forcing, and climate models driven with those forcings, do not simulate early Holocene warmth. Rather these simulations show cooler climates that steadily warm towards the present. This conflict between data and models has become known as the “Holocene Conundrum”. A robust understanding of early to mid-Holocene climate is of critical importance for understanding climate feedbacks, assessing climate models, and projecting the impacts of ongoing anthropogenic warming. Here, I will discuss our recent international effort to begin addressing this issue by compiling, analyzing and assimilating datasets from nearly 700 sites around the world. In this comprehensive treatment of the paleoclimate data, evidence for early and mid-Holocene warming persists, and the source of the discrepancy remains unclear. Furthermore, I will discuss next steps, other recent studies, likely culprits, and the key role of Southern Hemisphere paleoclimatology in resolving the “Conundrum”.

Zoom link

The talk will also be available live via Zoom:

Date Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Time 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Audience Public,All University,Alumni,Postgraduate students,Undergraduate students,Staff
Event Category Sciences
Event Type Lecture
Public Lecture
LocationQuad 4, Geology Building, Dunedin Campus, University of Otago, Dunedin
Contact NameGeology Office

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