Review Article | Published:

Palaeoclimate constraints on the impact of 2 °C anthropogenic warming and beyond

Nature Geosciencevolume 11pages474485 (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Over the past 3.5 million years, there have been several intervals when climate conditions were warmer than during the pre-industrial Holocene. Although past intervals of warming were forced differently than future anthropogenic change, such periods can provide insights into potential future climate impacts and ecosystem feedbacks, especially over centennial-to-millennial timescales that are often not covered by climate model simulations. Our observation-based synthesis of the understanding of past intervals with temperatures within the range of projected future warming suggests that there is a low risk of runaway greenhouse gas feedbacks for global warming of no more than 2 °C. However, substantial regional environmental impacts can occur. A global average warming of 1–2 °C with strong polar amplification has, in the past, been accompanied by significant shifts in climate zones and the spatial distribution of land and ocean ecosystems. Sustained warming at this level has also led to substantial reductions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, with sea-level increases of at least several metres on millennial timescales. Comparison of palaeo observations with climate model results suggests that, due to the lack of certain feedback processes, model-based climate projections may underestimate long-term warming in response to future radiative forcing by as much as a factor of two, and thus may also underestimate centennial-to-millennial-scale sea-level rise.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Change history

  • 18 July 2018

    In the version of this Review Article originally published, ref. 10 was mistakenly cited instead of ref. 107 at the end of the sentence: “This complexity of residual ice cover makes it likely that HTM warming was regional, rather than global, and its peak warmth thus had different timing in different locations.” In addition, for ref. 108, Scientific Reports was incorrectly given as the publication name; it should have been Scientific Data. These errors have now been corrected in the online versions.

References

  1. 1.

    Morice, C. P., Kennedy, J. J., Rayner, N. A. & Jones, P. D. Quantifying uncertainties in global and regional temperature change using an ensemble of observational estimates: the HadCRUT4 data set. J. Geophys. Res. 117, D08101 (2012).

  2. 2.

    IPCC Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 2013).

  3. 3.

    Clark, P. U. et al. Consequences of twenty-first-century policy for multi-millennial climate and sea-level change. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 360–369 (2016).

  4. 4.

    Eby, M. et al. Lifetime of anthropogenic climate change: millennial time scales of potential CO2 and surface temperature perturbations. J. Clim. 22, 2501–2511 (2009).

  5. 5.

    Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. Report on the Structured Expert Dialogue on the 2013–2015 Review (UNFCC, 2015).

  6. 6.

    Rockström, J. et al. A safe operating space for humanity. Nature 461, 472 (2009).

  7. 7.

    Valdes, P. Built for stability. Nat. Geosci. 4, 414–416 (2011).

  8. 8.

    Tzedakis, P. C. et al. Interglacial diversity. Nat. Geosci. 2, 751–755 (2009).

  9. 9.

    Martinez-Boti, M. A. et al. Plio-Pleistocene climate sensitivity evaluated using high-resolution CO2 records. Nature 518, 49–54 (2015).

  10. 10.

    Lunt, D. J. et al. A model–data comparison for a multi-model ensemble of early Eocene atmosphere–ocean simulations: EoMIP. Clim. Past 8, 1717–1736 (2012).

  11. 11.

    Paleosens Project Members. Making sense of palaeoclimate sensitivity. Nature 491, 683–691 (2012).

  12. 12.

    Bentley, M. J. et al. A community-based geological reconstruction of Antarctic Ice Sheet deglaciation since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quat. Sci. Rev. 100, 1–9 (2014).

  13. 13.

    Solomina, O. N. et al. Holocene glacier fluctuations. Quat. Sci. Rev. 111, 9–34 (2015).

  14. 14.

    Lambeck, K., Rouby, H., Purcell, A., Sun, Y. & Sambridge, M. Sea level and global ice volumes from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 15296–15303 (2014).

  15. 15.

    Briner, J. P. et al. Holocene climate change in Arctic Canada and Greenland. Quat. Sci. Rev. 147, 340–364 (2016).

  16. 16.

    Dutton, A. et al. Sea-level rise due to polar ice-sheet mass loss during past warm periods. Science 349, aaa4019 (2015).

  17. 17.

    Colville, E. J. et al. Sr-Nd-Pb isotope evidence for ice-sheet presence on Southern Greenland during the last interglacial. Science 333, 620–623 (2011).

  18. 18.

    DeConto, R. M. & Pollard, D. Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise. Nature 531, 591–597 (2016).

  19. 19.

    Sutter, J., Gierz, P., Grosfeld, K., Thoma, M. & Lohmann, G. Ocean temperature thresholds for Last Interglacial West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse. Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, 2675–2682 (2016).

  20. 20.

    Reyes, A. V. et al. South Greenland ice-sheet collapse during Marine Isotope Stage 11. Nature 510, 525–528 (2014).

  21. 21.

    Schaefer, J. M. et al. Greenland was nearly ice-free for extended periods during the Pleistocene. Nature 540, 252–255 (2016).

  22. 22.

    de Boer, B. et al. Simulating the Antarctic ice sheet in the late-Pliocene warm period: PLISMIP-ANT, an ice-sheet model intercomparison project. Cryosphere 9, 881–903 (2015).

  23. 23.

    Dowsett, H. et al. The PRISM4 (mid-Piacenzian) paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Clim. Past 12, 1519–1538 (2016).

  24. 24.

    Naish, T. et al. Obliquity-paced Pliocene West Antarctic ice sheet oscillations. Nature 458, 322–328 (2009).

  25. 25.

    Cook, C. P. et al. Dynamic behaviour of the East Antarctic ice sheet during Pliocene warmth. Nat. Geosci. 6, 765–769 (2013).

  26. 26.

    de Vernal, A., Gersonde, R., Goosse, H., Seidenkrantz, M.-S. & Wolff, E. W. Sea ice in the paleoclimate system: the challenge of reconstructing sea ice from proxies – an introduction. Quat. Sci. Rev. 79, 1–8 (2013).

  27. 27.

    Knies, J., Cabedo-Sanz, P., Belt, S. T., Baranwal, S., Fietz, S. & Rosell-Mele, A. The emergence of modern sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. Nat. Commun. 5, 5608 (2014).

  28. 28.

    Stein, R., Fahl, K., Gierz, P., Niessen, F. & Lohmann, G. Arctic Ocean sea ice cover during the penultimate glacial and the last interglacial. Nat. Commun. 8, 373 (2017).

  29. 29.

    Spolaor, A. et al. Canadian Arctic sea ice reconstructed from bromine in the Greenland NEEM ice core. Sci. Rep. 6, 33925 (2016).

  30. 30.

    Holloway, M. D. et al. The spatial structure of the 128 ka Antarctic sea ice minimum. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 11129–11139 (2017).

  31. 31.

    Clotten, C., Stein, R., Fahl, K. & De Schepper, S. Seasonal sea ice cover during the warm Pliocene: evidence from the Iceland Sea (ODP Site 907). Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 481, 61–72 (2018).

  32. 32.

    Hessler, I. et al. Implication of methodological uncertainties for mid-Holocene sea surface temperature reconstructions. Clim. Past 10, 2237–2252 (2014).

  33. 33.

    Praetorius, S. K. et al. North Pacific deglacial hypoxic events linked to abrupt ocean warming. Nature 527, 362–366 (2015).

  34. 34.

    Duncan, B. et al. Interglacial/glacial changes in coccolith-rich deposition in the SW Pacific Ocean: an analogue for a warmer world? Glob. Planet. Chang. 144, 252–262 (2016).

  35. 35.

    Studer, A. S. et al. Antarctic zone nutrient conditions during the last two glacial cycles. Paleoceanography 30, 845–862 (2015).

  36. 36.

    Jaccard, S. L. et al. Two modes of change in Southern Ocean productivity over the past million years. Science 339, 1419–1423 (2013).

  37. 37.

    Sigman, D. M., Jaccard, S. L. & Haug, G. H. Polar ocean stratification in a cold climate. Nature 428, 59–63 (2004).

  38. 38.

    Cane, T., Rohling, E. J., Kemp, A. E. S., Cooke, S. & Pearce, R. B. High-resolution stratigraphic framework for Mediterranean sapropel S5: defining temporal relationships between records of Eemian climate variability. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 183, 87–101 (2002).

  39. 39.

    Kender, S. et al. Mid Pleistocene foraminiferal mass extinction coupled with phytoplankton evolution. Nat. Commun. 7, 11970 (2016).

  40. 40.

    Haywood, A. M., Dowsett, H. J. & Dolan, A. M. Integrating geological archives and climate models for the mid-Pliocene warm period. Nat. Commun. 7, 10646 (2016).

  41. 41.

    Yasuhara, M., Hunt, G., Breitburg, D., Tsujimoto, A. & Katsuki, K. Human-induced marine ecological degradation: micropaleontological perspectives. Ecol. Evol. 2, 3242–3268 (2012).

  42. 42.

    Jolly, D., Harrison, S. P., Damnati, B. & Bonnefille, R. Simulated climate and biomes of Africa during the Late Quarternary: comparison with pollen and lake status data. Quat. Sci. Rev. 17, 629–657 (1998).

  43. 43.

    Williams, J. W., Shuman, B. & Bartlein, P. J. Rapid responses of the prairie-forest ecotone to early Holocene aridity in mid-continental North America. Glob. Planet. Chang. 66, 195–207 (2009).

  44. 44.

    Reasoner, M. & Tinner, W. in Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments (ed. Gornitz, V.) 442–446 (Springer, Dordrecht, 2008).

  45. 45.

    Bigelow, N. H. Climate change and Arctic ecosystems: 1. vegetation changes north of 55°N between the last glacial maximum, mid-Holocene, and present. J. Geophys. Res. 108, 8170 (2003).

  46. 46.

    CAPE-Last Interglacial Project Members. Last Interglacial Arctic warmth confirms polar amplification of climate change. Quat. Sci. Rev. 25, 1383–1400 (2006).

  47. 47.

    Larrasoaña, J. C., Roberts, A. P. & Rohling, E. J. Dynamics of Green Sahara periods and their role in hominin evolution. PLoS ONE 8, e76514 (2013).

  48. 48.

    de Vernal, A. & Hillaire-Marcel, C. Natural variability of Greenland climate, vegetation, and ice volume during the past million years. Science 320, 1622–1625 (2008).

  49. 49.

    Helmens, K. F. et al. Major cooling intersecting peak Eemian Interglacial warmth in northern Europe. Quat. Sci. Rev. 122, 293–299 (2015).

  50. 50.

    Melles, M. et al. 2.8 million years of Arctic climate change from Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Russia. Science 337, 315–320 (2012).

  51. 51.

    Urrego, D. H., Sánchez Goñi, M. F., Daniau, A. L., Lechevrel, S. & Hanquiez, V. Increased aridity in southwestern Africa during the warmest periods of the last interglacial. Clim. Past 11, 1417–1431 (2015).

  52. 52.

    Andreev, A. A. et al. Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene vegetation history of northeastern Russian Arctic inferred from the Lake El’gygytgyn pollen record. Clim. Past 10, 1017–1039 (2014).

  53. 53.

    Lemoine, D. & Traeger, C. P. Economics of tipping the climate dominoes. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 514–519 (2016).

  54. 54.

    Schilt, A. et al. Isotopic constraints on marine and terrestrial N2O emissions during the last deglaciation. Nature 516, 234–237 (2014).

  55. 55.

    Marcott, S. A. et al. Centennial-scale changes in the global carbon cycle during the last deglaciation. Nature 514, 616–619 (2014).

  56. 56.

    Rhodes, R. H. et al. Enhanced tropical methane production in response to iceberg discharge in the North Atlantic. Science 348, 1016 (2015).

  57. 57.

    Frank, D. C. et al. Ensemble reconstruction constraints on the global carbon cycle sensitivity to climate. Nature 463, 527–530 (2010).

  58. 58.

    Bauska, T. K. et al. Links between atmospheric carbon dioxide, the land carbon reservoir and climate over the past millennium. Nat. Geosci. 8, 383–387 (2015).

  59. 59.

    Charman, D. J. et al. Climate-related changes in peatland carbon accumulation during the last millennium. Biogeosciences 10, 929–944 (2013).

  60. 60.

    Frolking, S. & Roulet, N. T. Holocene radiative forcing impact of northern peatland carbon accumulation and methane emissions. Glob. Change Biol. 13, 1079–1088 (2007).

  61. 61.

    Stocker, B. D., Yu, Z., Massa, C. & Joos, F. Holocene peatland and ice-core data constraints on the timing and magnitude of CO2 emissions from past land use. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 1492–1497 (2017).

  62. 62.

    Yu, Z., Loisel, J., Brosseau, D. P., Beilman, D. W. & Hunt, S. J. Global peatland dynamics since the Last Glacial Maximum. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, (2010).

  63. 63.

    Dalton, A. S., Finkelstein, S. A., Barnett, P. J. & Forman, S. L. Constraining the Late Pleistocene history of the Laurentide Ice Sheet by dating the Missinaibi Formation, Hudson Bay Lowlands, Canada. Quat. Sci. Rev. 146, 288–299 (2016).

  64. 64.

    Sierralta, M., Urban, B., Linke, G. & Frechen, M. Middle Pleistocene interglacial peat deposits from Northern Germany investigated by 230Th/U and palynology: case studies from Wedel and Schöningen. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften 168, 373–387 (2017).

  65. 65.

    Mitchell, W. T. et al. Stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental reconstruction of a mid-Pliocene fossil site in the High Arctic (Ellesmere Island, Nunavut): evidence of an ancient peatland with beaver activity. Arctic 69, 185–204 (2016).

  66. 66.

    Turetsky, M. R. et al. Global vulnerability of peatlands to fire and carbon loss. Nat. Geosci. 8, 11–14 (2015).

  67. 67.

    Hugelius, G. et al. Estimated stocks of circumpolar permafrost carbon with quantified uncertainty ranges and identified data gaps. Biogeosciences 11, 6573–6593 (2014).

  68. 68.

    Bock, M. et al. Glacial/interglacial wetland, biomass burning and geologic methane emissions constrained by dual stable isotopic CH4 ice core records. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 5778–5786 (2017).

  69. 69.

    Bereiter, B. et al. Revision of the EPICA Dome C CO2 record from 800 to 600 kyr before present. Geophys. Res. Lett. https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL061957 (2015).

  70. 70.

    Loulergue, L. et al. Orbital and millennial-scale features of atmospheric CH4 over the past 800,000 years. Nature 453, 383–386 (2008).

  71. 71.

    Köhler, P., Knorr, G. & Bard, E. Permafrost thawing as a possible source of abrupt carbon release at the onset of the Bølling/Allerød. Nat. Commun. 5, 5520 (2014).

  72. 72.

    Kennett, J. P., Cannariato, K. G., Hendy, I. L. & Behl, R. J. Carbon isotopic evidence for methane hydrate instability during Quaternary interstadials. Science 288, 128–133 (2000).

  73. 73.

    Bock, M. et al. Hydrogen isotopes preclude clathrate CH4 emissions at the onset of Dansgaard-Oeschger events. Science 328, 1686–1689 (2010).

  74. 74.

    Petrenko, V. V. et al. Minimal geological methane emissions during the Younger Dryas–Preboreal abrupt warming event. Nature 548, 443–446 (2017).

  75. 75.

    MacDougall, A. H. & Knutti, R. Projecting the release of carbon from permafrost soils using a perturbed parameter ensemble modelling approach. Biogeosciences 13, 2123–2136 (2016).

  76. 76.

    Gregory, J. M. & Huybrechts, P. Ice-sheet contributions to future sea-level change. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 354, 1709–1731 (2006).

  77. 77.

    Robinson, A., Calov, R. & Ganopolski, A. Multistability and critical thresholds of the Greenland ice sheet. Nat. Clim. Change 2, 429–432 (2012).

  78. 78.

    Hatfield, R. G. et al. Interglacial responses of the southern Greenland ice sheet over the last 430,000 years determined using particle-size specific magnetic and isotopic tracers. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 454, 225–236 (2016).

  79. 79.

    Yau, A. M., Bender, M. L., Blunier, T. & Jouzel, J. Setting a chronology for the basal ice at Dye-3 and GRIP: implications for the long-term stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 451, 1–9 (2016).

  80. 80.

    Bierman, P. R., Shakun, J. D., Corbett, L. B., Zimmerman, S. R. & Rood, D. H. A persistent and dynamic East Greenland Ice Sheet over the past 7.5 million years. Nature 540, 256–260 (2016).

  81. 81.

    Scherer, R. P., Aldahan, A., Tulaczyk, S., Possnert, G., Engelhardt, H. & Kamb, B. Pleistocene collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Science 281, 82–85 (1998).

  82. 82.

    Barnes, D. K. A. & Hillenbrand, C.-D. Faunal evidence for a late quaternary trans-Antarctic seaway. Glob. Change Biol. 16, 3297–3303 (2010).

  83. 83.

    Williams, T. et al. Evidence for iceberg armadas from East Antarctica in the Southern Ocean during the late Miocene and early Pliocene. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 290, 351–361 (2010).

  84. 84.

    Golledge, N. R., Levy, R. H., McKay, R. M. & Naish, T. R. East Antarctic ice sheet most vulnerable to Weddell Sea warming. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 2343–2351 (2017).

  85. 85.

    Steig, E. J. et al. Influence of West Antarctic ice sheet collapse on Antarctic surface climate. Geophys. Res. Lett. 42, 4862–4868 (2015).

  86. 86.

    Vaughan, D. G., Barnes, D. K. A., Fretwell, P. T. & Bingham, R. G. Potential seaways across West Antarctica. Geochem. Geophys. 12, Q10004 (2011).

  87. 87.

    Hay, C. C., Morrow, E., Kopp, R. E. & Mitrovica, J. X. Probabilistic reanalysis of twentieth-century sea-level rise. Nature 517, 481–484 (2015).

  88. 88.

    Kopp, R. E., Simons, F. J., Mitrovica, J. X., Maloof, A. C. & Oppenheimer, M. A probabilistic assessment of sea level variations within the last interglacial stage. Geophys. J. Int. 193, 711–716 (2013).

  89. 89.

    O’Leary, M. J. et al. Ice sheet collapse following a prolonged period of stable sea level during the last interglacial. Nat. Geosci. 6, 796–800 (2013).

  90. 90.

    Rohling, E. J. et al. High rates of sea-level rise during the last interglacial period. Nat. Geosci. 1, 38–42 (2007).

  91. 91.

    Nerem, R. S. et al. Climate-change-driven accelerated sea-level rise detected in the altimeter era. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 115, 2022–2025 (2018).

  92. 92.

    Tinner, W. et al. A 700-year paleoecological record of boreal ecosystem responses to climatic variation from Alaska. Ecology 89, 729–743 (2008).

  93. 93.

    Schwörer, C., Henne, P. D. & Tinner, W. A model-data comparison of Holocene timberline changes in the Swiss Alps reveals past and future drivers of mountain forest dynamics. Glob. Change Biol. 20, 1512–1526 (2014).

  94. 94.

    Verbesselt, J. et al. Remotely sensed resilience of tropical forests. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 1028–1031 (2016).

  95. 95.

    MacDonald, G. M., Kremenetski, K. V. & Beilman, D. W. Climate change and the northern Russian treeline zone. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 363, 2285–2299 (2008).

  96. 96.

    Scheffer, M., Hirota, M., Holmgren, M., Van Nes, E. H. & Chapin, F. S. Thresholds for boreal biome transitions. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 109, 21384–21389 (2012).

  97. 97.

    Ruosch, M., Spahni, R., Joos, F., Henne, P. D., van der Knaap, W. O. & Tinner, W. Past and future evolution of Abies alba forests in Europe - comparison of a dynamic vegetation model with palaeo data and observations. Glob. Change Biol. 22, 727–740 (2016).

  98. 98.

    Colombaroli, D. et al. Response of broadleaved evergreen Mediterranean forest vegetation to fire disturbance during the Holocene: insights from the peri-Adriatic region. J. Biogeogr. 36, 314–326 (2009).

  99. 99.

    Hirota, M., Holmgren, M., Van Nes, E. H. & Scheffer, M. Global resilience of tropical forest and savanna to critical transitions. Science 334, 232–235 (2011).

  100. 100.

    Kröpelin, S. et al. Climate-driven ecosystem succession in the Sahara: the past 6000 years. Science 320, 765–768 (2008).

  101. 101.

    The Paris Agreement (UN Treaty Collection, 2015).

  102. 102.

    Ceballos, G., Ehrlich, P. R. & Dirzo, R. Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, E6089–E6096 (2017).

  103. 103.

    Snyder, C. W. Evolution of global temperature over the past two million years. Nature 538, 226–228 (2016).

  104. 104.

    Hansen, J., Sato, M., Russell, G. & Kharecha, P. Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide. Philos. Trans. A Math. Phys. Eng. Sci. 371, 20120294 (2013).

  105. 105.

    Bartoli, G., Hönisch, B. & Zeebe, R. E. Atmospheric CO2 decline during the Pliocene intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciations. Paleoceanography 26, PA4213 (2011).

  106. 106.

    Hönisch, B., Hemming, N. G., Archer, D., Siddall, M. & McManus, J. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration across the Mid-Pleistocene transition. Science 324, 1551–1554 (2009).

  107. 107.

    Marcott, S. A., Shakun, J. D., Clark, P. U. & Mix, A. C. A reconstruction of regional and global temperature for the past 11,300 years. Science 339, 1198–1201 (2013).

  108. 108.

    PAGES2k Consortium. A global multiproxy database for temperature reconstructions of the Common Era. Sci. Data 4, 170088 (2017).

  109. 109.

    Hoffman, J. S., Clark, P. U., Parnell, A. C. & He, F. Regional and global sea-surface temperatures during the last interglaciation. Science 355, 276–279 (2017).

  110. 110.

    Otto-Bliesner, B. L. et al. How warm was the last interglacial? New model–data comparisons. Philos. Trans. A Math Phys. Eng. Sci. 371, 20130097 (2013).

  111. 111.

    Barber, D. C. et al. Forcing of the cold event of 8,200 years ago by catastrophic drainage of Laurentide lakes. Nature 400, 344–348 (1999).

  112. 112.

    Schilt, A. et al. Atmospheric nitrous oxide during the last 140,000 years. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 300, 33–43 (2010).

  113. 113.

    Berger, A. & Loutre, M. F. Insolation values for the climate of the last 10 million years. Quat. Sci. Rev. 10, 297–317 (1991).

  114. 114.

    Marsicek, J., Shuman, B. N., Bartlein, P. J., Shafer, S. L. & Brewer, S. Reconciling divergent trends and millennial variations in Holocene temperatures. Nature 554, 92–96 (2018).

  115. 115.

    Kobashi, T. et al. Volcanic influence on centennial to millennial Holocene Greenland temperature change. Sci. Rep. 7, 1441 (2017).

  116. 116.

    Vinther, B. et al. Holocene thinning of the Greenland ice sheet. Nature 461, 385–388 (2009).

  117. 117.

    Buizert, C. et al. Greenland-wide seasonal temperatures during the last deglaciation. Geophys. Res. Lett. 45, 1905–1914 (2018).

  118. 118.

    Eldevik, T. et al. A brief history of climate – the northern seas from the Last Glacial Maximum to global warming. Quat. Sci. Rev. 106, 225–246 (2014).

  119. 119.

    Max, L. et al. Sea surface temperature variability and sea-ice extent in the subarctic northwest Pacific during the past 15,000 years. Paleoceanography 27, PA3213 (2012).

  120. 120.

    Barron, J. A., Heusser, L., Herbert, T. & Lyle, M. High-resolution climatic evolution of coastal northern California during the past 16,000 years. Paleoceanography 18, 1020 (2003).

  121. 121.

    Clark, P. U. & Huybers, P. Interglacial and future sea level. Nature 462, 856–857 (2009).

  122. 122.

    McKay, N. P., Overpeck, J. T. & Otto-Bliesner, B. L. The role of ocean thermal expansion in Last Interglacial sea level rise. Geophys. Res. Lett. 38, L14605 (2011).

  123. 123.

    CLIMAP Project Members. The last interglacial ocean. Quat. Res. 21, 123–224 (1984).

  124. 124.

    Turney, C. S. M. & Jones, R. T. Does the Agulhas Current amplify global temperatures during super-interglacials? J. Quat. Sci. 25, 839–843 (2010).

  125. 125.

    Capron, E., Govin, A., Feng, R., Otto-Bliesner, B. L. & Wolff, E. W. Critical evaluation of climate syntheses to benchmark CMIP6/PMIP4 127 ka last interglacial simulations in the high-latitude regions. Quat. Sci. Rev. 168, 137–150 (2017).

  126. 126.

    Landais, A. et al. How warm was Greenland during the last interglacial period? Clim. Past 12, 1933–1948 (2016).

  127. 127.

    Dowsett, H. J. et al. Assessing confidence in Pliocene sea surface temperatures to evaluate predictive models. Nat. Clim. Change 2, 365–371 (2012).

  128. 128.

    Brigham-Grette, J. et al. Pliocene warmth, polar amplification, and stepped pleistocene cooling recorded in NE Arctic Russia. Science 340, 1421–1427 (2013).

  129. 129.

    Ballantyne, A. P., Greenwood, D. R., Sinninghe Damsté, J. S., Csank, A. Z., Eberle, J. J. & Rybczynski, N. Significantly warmer Arctic surface temperatures during the Pliocene indicated by multiple independent proxies. Geology 38, 603–606 (2010).

  130. 130.

    Salzmann, U. et al. Challenges in quantifying Pliocene terrestrial warming revealed by data–model discord. Nat. Clim. Change 3, 969–974 (2013).

  131. 131.

    Lea, D. W. The 100 000-yr cycle in tropical SST, greenhouse forcing, and climate sensitivity. J. Clim. 17, 2170–2179 (2004).

  132. 132.

    Dyez, K. A. & Ravelo, A. C. Late Pleistocene tropical Pacific temperature sensitivity to radiative greenhouse gas forcing. Geology 41, 23–26 (2013).

  133. 133.

    Lunt, D. J., Haywood, A. M., Schmidt, G. A., Salzmann, U., Valdes, P. J. & Dowsett, H. J. Earth system sensitivity inferred from Pliocene modelling and data. Nat. Geosci. 3, 60–64 (2010).

  134. 134.

    von der Heydt, A. S. et al. Lessons on climate sensitivity from past climate changes. Curr. Clim. Change Rep. 2, 148–158 (2016).

  135. 135.

    Meissner, K. J. et al. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum: how much carbon is enough? Paleoceanography 29, 946–963 (2014).

  136. 136.

    Anagnostou, E. et al. Changing atmospheric CO2 concentration was the primary driver of early Cenozoic climate. Nature 533, 380–384 (2016).

  137. 137.

    Goldner, A., Huber, M. & Caballero, R. Does Antarctic glaciation cool the world? Clim. Past 9, 173–189 (2013).

  138. 138.

    Kiehl, J. T. & Shields, C. A. Sensitivity of the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum climate to cloud properties. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 371, 20130093 (2013).

  139. 139.

    Sagoo, N., Valdes, P., Flecker, R. & Gregoire, L. J. The Early Eocene equable climate problem: can perturbations of climate model parameters identify possible solutions? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 371, 20130123 (2013).

Download references

Acknowledgements

Financial support of the PAGES Warmer World Integrative Activity workshop by the Future Earth core project PAGES (Past Global Changes) and the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, is gratefully acknowledged. Additional funding by PAGES was provided to the plioVAR, PALSEA 2, QUIGS, the 2k network, C-peat, Global Paleofire 2 and OC3 PAGES working groups contributing to the Integrated Activity (see http://www.pages.unibe.ch/science/intro for an overview of all former and active PAGES working groups). We thank N. Rosenbloom for creating Fig. 2.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

    • Hubertus Fischer
    • , Stéphane Affolter
    • , Fortunat Joos
    • , Christoph Nehrbass-Ahles
    • , Christoph C. Raible
    • , Thomas F. Stocker
    •  & Patricio A. Velasquez Alvárez
  2. Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

    • Hubertus Fischer
    • , Daniele Colombaroli
    • , Samuel L. Jaccard
    • , Stéphane Affolter
    • , Julia Gottschalk
    • , Fortunat Joos
    • , Katarzyna Marcisz
    • , Christoph Nehrbass-Ahles
    • , Christoph C. Raible
    • , Thomas F. Stocker
    • , Patricio A. Velasquez Alvárez
    • , Willy Tinner
    • , Hendrik Vogel
    •  & Heinz Wanner
  3. Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales Sydney, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, Sydney, Australia

    • Katrin J. Meissner
  4. College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

    • Alan C. Mix
    •  & Anders E. Carlson
  5. Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Canberra, Australia

    • Nerilie J. Abram
  6. Bullard Laboratories, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

    • Jacqueline Austermann
  7. Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

    • Victor Brovkin
  8. Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Emilie Capron
  9. British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK

    • Emilie Capron
    •  & Max D. Holloway
  10. Centre for Quaternary Research, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK

    • Daniele Colombaroli
  11. Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

    • Daniele Colombaroli
    • , Katarzyna Marcisz
    •  & Willy Tinner
  12. Limnology Unit, Department of Biology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

    • Daniele Colombaroli
  13. Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux, EPOC, CNRS, Université de Bordeaux, Pessac, France

    • Anne-Laure Daniau
    • , Thibaut Caley
    • , Philippe Martinez
    •  & María F. Sánchez Goñi
  14. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, USA

    • Kelsey A. Dyez
  15. MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

    • Thomas Felis
    • , Alessio Rovere
    • , Pepijn Bakker
    •  & Michal Kucera
  16. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

    • Sarah A. Finkelstein
  17. Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

    • Samuel L. Jaccard
    • , Julia Gottschalk
    •  & Hendrik Vogel
  18. Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom

    • Erin L. McClymont
  19. Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen, Germany

    • Alessio Rovere
  20. Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany

    • Johannes Sutter
    •  & Paul Gierz
  21. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

    • Eric W. Wolff
  22. International Foundation High Altitude Research Stations Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat, Bern, Switzerland

    • Stéphane Affolter
  23. Institute for Environmental Sciences and Dendrolab, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

    • Juan Antonio Ballesteros-Cánovas
    •  & Olga Churakova (Sidorova)
  24. Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes - CNR, Venice, Italy

    • Carlo Barbante
  25. Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca’Foscari University of Venice, Venice, Italy

    • Carlo Barbante
  26. Institute of Ecology and Geography, Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk, Russia

    • Olga Churakova (Sidorova)
  27. GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

    • Giuseppe Cortese
  28. Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

    • Brian F. Cumming
  29. Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    • Basil A. S. Davis
  30. Centre de recherche en géochimie et géodynamique, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada

    • Anne de Vernal
  31. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

    • Julien Emile-Geay
  32. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA

    • Sherilyn C. Fritz
  33. Past Global Changes (PAGES), Bern, Switzerland

    • Marie-France Loutre
  34. School of Geographical Sciences and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

    • Daniel J. Lunt
    •  & Paul J. Valdes
  35. Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Monitoring, Department of Biogeography and Palaeoecology, Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

    • Katarzyna Marcisz
  36. School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

    • Jennifer R. Marlon
  37. Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (UMR8212 CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris Saclay), Gif-sur-Yvette cédex, France

    • Valerie Masson-Delmotte
  38. Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

    • Bette L. Otto-Bliesner
  39. Uni Research Climate, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

    • Bjørg Risebrobakken
  40. École Pratique des Hautes Études, EPHE, PSL University, Paris, France

    • María F. Sánchez Goñi
  41. United States Global Change Research Program, National Coordination Office, Washington, DC, USA

    • Jennifer Saleem Arrigo
  42. Institute for Geosciences, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany

    • Michael Sarnthein
  43. Quaternary Sciences, Department of Geology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

    • Jesper Sjolte
  44. Nansen-Zhu International Research Centre, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

    • Qing Yan
  45. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA

    • Zicheng Yu
  46. Institute for Peat and Mire Research, School of Geographical Sciences, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, China

    • Zicheng Yu
  47. Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

    • Martin Ziegler
  48. Geological Institute, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

    • Martin Ziegler
  49. Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, Department of Geography, Institute of Ocean Research, Peking University, Beijing, China

    • Liping Zhou

Authors

  1. Search for Hubertus Fischer in:

  2. Search for Katrin J. Meissner in:

  3. Search for Alan C. Mix in:

  4. Search for Nerilie J. Abram in:

  5. Search for Jacqueline Austermann in:

  6. Search for Victor Brovkin in:

  7. Search for Emilie Capron in:

  8. Search for Daniele Colombaroli in:

  9. Search for Anne-Laure Daniau in:

  10. Search for Kelsey A. Dyez in:

  11. Search for Thomas Felis in:

  12. Search for Sarah A. Finkelstein in:

  13. Search for Samuel L. Jaccard in:

  14. Search for Erin L. McClymont in:

  15. Search for Alessio Rovere in:

  16. Search for Johannes Sutter in:

  17. Search for Eric W. Wolff in:

  18. Search for Stéphane Affolter in:

  19. Search for Pepijn Bakker in:

  20. Search for Juan Antonio Ballesteros-Cánovas in:

  21. Search for Carlo Barbante in:

  22. Search for Thibaut Caley in:

  23. Search for Anders E. Carlson in:

  24. Search for Olga Churakova (Sidorova) in:

  25. Search for Giuseppe Cortese in:

  26. Search for Brian F. Cumming in:

  27. Search for Basil A. S. Davis in:

  28. Search for Anne de Vernal in:

  29. Search for Julien Emile-Geay in:

  30. Search for Sherilyn C. Fritz in:

  31. Search for Paul Gierz in:

  32. Search for Julia Gottschalk in:

  33. Search for Max D. Holloway in:

  34. Search for Fortunat Joos in:

  35. Search for Michal Kucera in:

  36. Search for Marie-France Loutre in:

  37. Search for Daniel J. Lunt in:

  38. Search for Katarzyna Marcisz in:

  39. Search for Jennifer R. Marlon in:

  40. Search for Philippe Martinez in:

  41. Search for Valerie Masson-Delmotte in:

  42. Search for Christoph Nehrbass-Ahles in:

  43. Search for Bette L. Otto-Bliesner in:

  44. Search for Christoph C. Raible in:

  45. Search for Bjørg Risebrobakken in:

  46. Search for María F. Sánchez Goñi in:

  47. Search for Jennifer Saleem Arrigo in:

  48. Search for Michael Sarnthein in:

  49. Search for Jesper Sjolte in:

  50. Search for Thomas F. Stocker in:

  51. Search for Patricio A. Velasquez Alvárez in:

  52. Search for Willy Tinner in:

  53. Search for Paul J. Valdes in:

  54. Search for Hendrik Vogel in:

  55. Search for Heinz Wanner in:

  56. Search for Qing Yan in:

  57. Search for Zicheng Yu in:

  58. Search for Martin Ziegler in:

  59. Search for Liping Zhou in:

Contributions

The content of this paper is the result of a PAGES workshop taking place in Bern, Switzerland, in April 2017, which most of the authors attended. All authors contributed to the literature assessment and the discussion of the results. H.F., K.J.M. and A.C.M. developed the concept of the paper and compiled the paper with support by all co-authors. All co-authors contributed to the discussion of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Hubertus Fischer or Katrin J. Meissner or Alan C. Mix.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Material.

  2. Supplementary Tables

    Supplementary Tables 1–5 and 8–11.

  3. Supplementary Table 6

    Supplementary Table 6.

  4. Supplementary Table 7

    Supplementary Table 7.

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0146-0