The characteristics of the mid-Pliocene warm period (mPWP: 3.264–3.025 Ma BP) have been examined using geological proxies and climate models. While there is agreement between models and data, details of regional climate differ. Uncertainties in prescribed forcings and in proxy data limit the utility of the interval to understand the dynamics of a warmer than present climate or evaluate models. This uncertainty comes, in part, from the reconstruction of a time slab rather than a time slice, where forcings required by climate models can be more adequately constrained. Here, we describe the rationale and approach for identifying a time slice(s) for Pliocene environmental reconstruction. A time slice centred on 3.205 Ma BP (3.204–3.207 Ma BP) has been identified as a priority for investigation. It is a warm interval characterized by a negative benthic oxygen isotope excursion (0.21–0.23‰) centred on marine isotope stage KM5c (KM5.3). It occurred during a period of orbital forcing that was very similar to present day. Climate model simulations indicate that proxy temperature estimates are unlikely to be significantly affected by orbital forcing for at least a precession cycle centred on the time slice, with the North Atlantic potentially being an important exception.
|Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences
|Published - 2013