Centennial-scale climate cooling with a sudden cold event around 8,200 years ago


The extent of climate variability during the current interglacial period, the Holocene, is still debated. Temperature records derived from central Greenland ice cores show one significant temperature anomaly between 8,200 and 8,100 years ago, which is often attributed to a meltwater outflow into the North Atlantic Ocean and a slowdown of North Atlantic Deep Water formation—this anomaly provides an opportunity to study such processes with relevance to present-day freshening of the North Atlantic. Anomalies in climate proxy records from locations around the globe are often correlated with this sharp event in Greenland. But the anomalies in many of these records span 400 to 600 years, start from about 8,600 years ago and form part of a repeating pattern within the Holocene. More sudden climate changes around 8,200 years ago appear superimposed on this longer-term cooling. The compounded nature of the signals implies that far-field climate anomalies around 8,200 years ago cannot be used in a straightforward manner to assess the impact of a slowdown of North Atlantic Deep Water formation, and the geographical extent of the rapid cooling event 8,200 years ago remains to be determined.

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Figure 1: Collection of well-dated climate proxy records used to identify anomalies around 8.2 kyr bp.


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We thank all colleagues who generously made their data available, either directly or through the NOAA National Geophysical Data Centre, and J. Thomson for discussions and suggestions.

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Correspondence to Eelco J. Rohling.

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Notes

The file contains a description of the statistical technique used for identifying anomalies in the data presented in the main text. It also contains the results of the statistical analyses as Supplementary Table S1 and Supplementary Figure S1. Supplementary Table S2 lists the characteristics of the data series portrayed in the main text, including reported dating uncertainties, references, and the intervals marking the anomalies highlighted with coloured boxes in Figure 1 of the main text. (PDF 2160 kb)

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Rohling, E., Pälike, H. Centennial-scale climate cooling with a sudden cold event around 8,200 years ago. Nature 434, 975–979 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03421

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