Current global warming necessitates a detailed understanding of the relationships between climate and global ice volume. Highly resolved and continuous sea-level records are essential for quantifying ice-volume changes. However, an unbiased study of the timing of past ice-volume changes, relative to polar climate change, has so far been impossible because available sea-level records either were dated by using orbital tuning or ice-core timescales, or were discontinuous in time. Here we present an independent dating of a continuous, high-resolution sea-level record1,2 in millennial-scale detail throughout the past 150,000 years. We find that the timing of ice-volume fluctuations agrees well with that of variations in Antarctic climate and especially Greenland climate. Amplitudes of ice-volume fluctuations more closely match Antarctic (rather than Greenland) climate changes. Polar climate and ice-volume changes, and their rates of change, are found to covary within centennial response times. Finally, rates of sea-level rise reached at least 1.2 m per century during all major episodes of ice-volume reduction.
Your institute does not have access to this article
Open Access articles citing this article.
Combined climate impacts and vulnerability index on coastal ecosystems in prediction of future scenarios: extended sustainable indicator tool for adaptive strategy
SN Applied Sciences Open Access 15 July 2022
Nature Communications Open Access 02 July 2022
Scientific Reports Open Access 22 June 2022
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Siddall, M. et al. Sea-level fluctuations during the last glacial cycle. Nature 423, 853–858 (2003)
Rohling, E. J. et al. Antarctic temperature and global sea level closely coupled over the past five glacial cycles. Nature Geosci. 2, 500–504 (2009)
Hansen, J. et al. Climate change and trace gases. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365, 1925–1954 (2007)
Köhler, P. et al. What caused Earth’s temperature variations during the last 800,000 years? Data-based evidence on radiative forcing and constraints on climate sensitivity. Quat. Sci. Rev. 29, 129–145 (2010)
Shackleton, N. J., Hall, M. A. & Vincent, E. Phase relationships between millennial-scale events 64,000–24,000 years ago. Paleoceanography 15, 565–569 (2000)
Waelbroeck, C. et al. Sea-level and deep water temperature changes derived from benthic foraminifera isotopic records. Quat. Sci. Rev. 21, 295–305 (2002)
Bintanja, R., van de Wal, R. S. W. & Oerlemans, J. Modelled atmospheric temperatures and global sea levels over the past million years. Nature 437, 125–128 (2005)
Cuffey, K. M. & Marshall, S. J. Substantial contribution to sea-level rise during the last interglacial from the Greenland ice sheet. Nature 404, 591–594 (2000)
Otto-Bliesner, B. L. et al. Simulating Arctic climate warmth and icefield retreat in the Last Interglacial. Science 311, 1751–1753 (2006)
Bar-Matthews, M., Ayalon, A., Gilmour, M., Matthews, A. & Hawkesworth, C. J. Sea–land oxygen isotopic relationships from planktonic foraminifera and speleothems in the Eastern Mediterranean region and their implication for paleorainfall during interglacial intervals. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 67, 3181–3199 (2003)
Almogi-Labin, A. et al. Climatic variability during the last ∼90 ka of the southern and northern Levantine Basin as evident from marine records and speleothems. Quat. Sci. Rev. 28, 2882–2896 (2009)
Rohling, E. J. Environmental controls on salinity and δ18O in the Mediterranean. Paleoceanography 14, 706–715 (1999)
Manning, S. W. et al. Chronology for the Aegean Late Bronze Age 1700–1400 BC. Science 312, 565–569 (2006)
De Vivo, B. et al. New constraints on the pyroclastic eruptive history of the Campanian volcanic plain (Italy). Mineral. Petrol. 73, 47–65 (2001)
Bronk Ramsey, C. Deposition models for chronological records. Quat. Sci. Rev. 27, 42–60 (2008)
Stanford, J. D. et al. Sea-level probability for the last deglaciation: a statistical analysis of far-field records. Global Planet. Change 79, 193–203 (2011)
Trommer, G. et al. Sensitivity of Red Sea circulation to sea level and insolation forcing during the last interglacial. Clim. Past 7, 941–955 (2011)
Lambeck, K. et al. Sea level and shoreline reconstructions for the Red Sea: isostatic and tectonic considerations and implications for hominin migration out of Africa. Quat. Sci. Rev. 30, 3542–3574 (2011)
Lisiecki, L. E. & Raymo, M. E. A Plio-Pleistocene stack of 57 globally distributed benthic δ18O records. Paleoceanography 20 PA1003 10.1029/2004PA001071 (2005)
Dansgaard, W. et al. Evidence for general instability of past climate from a 250-kyr ice-core record. Nature 364, 218–220 (1993)
Kopp, R. E., Simons, F. J., Mitrovica, J. X., Maloof, A. C. & Oppenheimer, M. Probabilistic assessment of sea level during the last interglacial stage. Nature 462, 863–868 (2009)
Thompson, W. G., Curran, H. A., Wilson, M. A. & White, B. Sea-level oscillations during the last interglacial highstand recorded by Bahamas corals. Nature Geosci. 4, 684–687 (2011)
Gregory, J. M., Huybrechts, P. & Raper, S. C. B. Threatened loss of the Greenland ice-sheet. Nature 428, 616 (2004)
Chappell, J. Sea level changes forced ice breakouts in the Last Glacial cycle: new results from coral terraces. Quat. Sci. Rev. 21, 1229–1240 (2002)
Cutler, K. B. et al. Rapid sea-level fall and deep-ocean temperature change since the last interglacial period. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 206, 253–271 (2003)
Thompson, W. G. & Goldstein, S. L. Open-system coral ages reveal persistent suborbital sea-level cycles. Science 308, 401–404 (2005)
Dutton, A. & Lambeck, K. Ice volume and sea level during the last interglacial. Science 337, 216–219 (2012)
EPICA Community Members. One-to-one coupling of glacial climate variability in Greenland and Antarctica. Nature 444, 195–198 (2006)
Jouzel, J. et al. Orbital and millennial Antarctic climate variability over the past 800,000 years. Science 317, 793–797 (2007)
North Greenland Ice Core Project Members. High-resolution record of Northern Hemisphere climate extending into the last interglacial period. Nature 431, 147–151 (2004)
Svensson, A. et al. A 60 000 year Greenland stratigraphic ice core chronology. Clim. Past 4, 47–57 (2008)
Parrenin, F. et al. The EDC3 chronology for the EPICA Dome C ice core. Clim. Past 3, 485–497 (2007)
We thank A. Dutton for comments that improved the manuscript. S. Lee helped with the use of OxCal. This study contributes to UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) projects NE/H004424/1, NE/E01531X/1 and NE/I009906/1, to a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (E.J.R.), and to a 2012 Australian Laureate Fellowship FL120100050 (E.J.R.).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Grant, K., Rohling, E., Bar-Matthews, M. et al. Rapid coupling between ice volume and polar temperature over the past 150,000 years. Nature 491, 744–747 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11593
Communications Earth & Environment (2022)
Scientific Reports (2022)
Nature Communications (2022)
Nature Geoscience (2022)
East Asian summer monsoon changes in subtropical China since late Pleistocene: Evidence from the Ailuropoda-Stegodon fauna
Journal of Mountain Science (2022)