A New Method for Reconstructing Sea-Level and Deep-Sea-Temperature Variability over the Past 5.3 Million Years 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 9:45 AM
Eelco Johan Rohling, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO14, United Kingdom; Australian National University, Research School of Earth Sciences, Canberra, Australia
Ice volume (and hence sea level) and deep-sea temperature are key measures of global climate change. Sea level has been documented using several independent methods over the past 0.5 million years (Myr). Older periods, however, lack such independent validation; all existing records are related to deep-sea oxygen isotope (d18O) data that are influenced by processes unrelated to sea level. For deep-sea temperature, only one continuous high-resolution (Mg/Ca-based) record exists, with related sea-level estimates, spanning the past 1.5 Myr. We have recently presented a novel sea-level reconstruction, with associated estimates of deep-sea temperature, which independently validates the previous 0–1.5 Myr reconstruction and extends it back to 5.3 Myr ago. A serious of caveats applies to this new method, especially in older times of its application, as is always the case with new methods. Independent validation exercises are needed to elucidate where consistency exists, and where solutions drift away from each other. A key observation from our new method is that a large temporal offset existed during the onset of Plio-Pleistocene ice ages, between a marked cooling step at 2.73 Myr ago and the first major glaciation at 2.15 Myr ago. This observation relies on relative changes within the dataset, which are more robust than absolute values. I will discuss our method and its main caveats and avenues for improvement.