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Role of MOC on Ancient Climates / Implications for Anthropogenic Climate Change
  • Malcolm Cumming
Malcolm Cumming

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Our increasingly robust history of ancient climates indicates that high latitude glaciation is the ultimate product of an episodic cooling trend that began about 100-million years ago rather than a result of a yet-to-be identified modal change. Antarctic geography (continent surrounded by ocean) allowed ice to develop prior to significant glaciation in the Northern Hemisphere (ocean surrounded by land), but global ice volume generally increased as Earth cooled. The question of what caused the Ice Ages should be reframed as to “What caused the Cenozoic Cooling?” Records tell us that changes in temperature and CO2 levels rise and fall together, however it is not clear when CO2 acts as a driver versus when it is primarily an indicator of temperature change. The episodic nature of the cooling trend suggests other more dynamic phenomena are involved. It is proposed that oceanic meridional overturning circulation (MOC) plays a significant role in regulating Earth’s surface temperature. Robust MOC has a cooling effect which results from its sequestration of cold waters (together with their increased heat-absorbing potential) below the surface. Unable to better absorb equatorial insolation for great lengths of time, oceanic deep waters are not able to fully compensate for the heat lost by warm-water transport to Polar Regions. A lag-time between cooling and subsequent warming yields lower operating temperatures commensurate with the strength of global MOC. The long-term decline in global temperatures is largely explained by the tectonic reshaping of ocean basins and the connections between them such that MOC has generally, but not uniformly, increased. Geophysically Influenced MOC (GIMOC) has caused a significant proportion of the lowering of global temperatures in the Cenozoic Era. Short-term disruptions in MOC (and subsequent impacts on global temperatures) were likely involved in Late Pleistocene glacial termination events and may already be compounding present anthropogenic CO2 induced warming. The immediate impacts of AMOC strength on North Atlantic and European temperatures coupled with the delayed and opposing effects on global temperatures offer explanations for phenomena including: Younger Dryas, Little Ice Age and the bipolar seesaw. (Please see supplemental file: Oceanic Geophysics & History of Climate(ver #02).pdf listed below.)