We describe the evolution of climate system dynamics by examining the climate response to changes in obliquity and precession over the last 5.3 Myr. In particular, we examine changes in the shape of glacial cycles and the power of obliquity and precession response in benthic delta O-18. When the exponential trend in delta O-18 variance is removed, its spectral power exhibits strong, proportional responses to amplitude modulations in orbital forcing over most of the Plio-Pleistocene. Precession responses correlate with modulations in forcing for the last 5 Myr, but 41-kyr response is sensitive to obliquity modulation only before 1.4 Myr. Where responses are sensitive to modulations in forcing, we demonstrate that glacial cycles are orbitally forced rather than being self-sustained or paced by orbital changes. The shapes of glacial cycles have several nonlinear properties, which may be indicative of glacial-interglacial differences in climate sensitivity or response time. The ``saw-tooth'' asymmetry of glacial cycles first appears shortly after the onset of major northern hemisphere glaciation, and the relative duration of interglacial stages decreases at 1.4 Myr. Collectively, trends in the shape of glacial cycles and the sensitivity of delta O-18 to obliquity and precession are suggestive of major transitions in climate dynamics at approximately 2.5 and 1.4 Myr but show no significant change associated with the appearance of strong 100-kyr cycles during the mid-Pleistocene transition. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Plio-Pleistocene climate evolution: trends and transitions in glacial cycle dynamics
Publication Status is "Submitted" Or "In Press:
Year of Publication:
QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS
Section / Start page:
LDEO Publication Number: