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Review Article
Nature 315, 21 - 26 (02 May 1985); doi:10.1038/315021a0

Does the ocean–atmosphere system have more than one stable mode of operation?

Wallace S. Broecker*, Dorothy M. Peteet & David Rind

*Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964, USA
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, New York 10025, USA

The climate record obtained from two long Greenland ice cores reveals several brief climate oscillations during glacial time. The most recent of these oscillations, also found in continental pollen records, has greatest impact in the area under the meteorological influence of the northern Atlantic, but none in the United States. This suggests that these oscillations are caused by fluctuations in the formation rate of deep water in the northern Atlantic. As the present production of deep water in this area is driven by an excess of evaporation over precipitation and continental runoff, atmospheric water transport may be an important element in climate change. Changes in the production rate of deep water in this sector of the ocean may push the climate system from one quasi-stable mode of operation to another.

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