Last interglacial

Measuring Last Interglacial deposits, Mallorca

Measuring Last Interglacial deposits, Bermuda

Past interglacials are of interest for the scientific community (and society at large) as they can be used as proxies for a climate system as warm or slightly warmer than today. Of particular interest is the degree to which relatively small perturbations to climate forcing variables such as atmospheric temperature, insolation, or CO2 can lead to polar ice volume and sea level changes. One of the main focuses of paleoclimatology is the ice volume history and consequent sea level variations during marine isotope stage (MIS) 5e, the Last Interglacial Period (LIG, ~128 to 116 kyr BP). During MIS 5e, ice core evidence suggests greenhouse gas concentrations were comparable to pre-industrial levels, but summer insolation at high latitudes was higher by ~10%. This small increase in solar heating was apparently sufficient to warm polar temperatures in both hemispheres by about 3-5 °C relative to today and global mean temperature by an estimated 1.5°C. By comparison, estimates of global mean temperature indicate an increase of ~0.85°C since 1880 (IPCC, 2013) and an additional warming of 1°C, likely to occur by the end of this century, could be expected to raise polar temperatures by an additional 3-6 °C. Indeed, the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by an average of 0.5°C/decade over the last 60 years.

In this topic we work to answer the question: how did the polar ice sheets, and hence sea level, responded to MIS 5e warming?

Active projects

  • MIS 5e in Mallorca, Canary Islands and Cape Verde (T. Lorscheid’s PhD project)
  • MEDFLOOD, Mediterranean sea level changes (funded by INQUA)
  • Fingerprinting MIS 5e sea levels in the Western Atlantic (in collaboration with M. Raymo and J. Mitrovica)

Closest collaborations

  • Paolo Stocchi, NIOZ, Netherlands
  • Maureen E. Raymo, LDEO, Columbia University, US
  • Jerry X. Mitrovica, Harvard, US
  • Paul J. Hearty, UNC Wilmington, US
  • Field collaborators in different areas

Publications (since March 2014)

Rovere, A., Antonioli, F., Bianchi, C.N., 2015. Fixed biological indicators, in: Shennan, I., Long, A.J., Horton, B.P. (Eds.), Handbook of Sea-Level Research. Wiley Online Library, pp. 268–280.

Avila, S., Melo, C., Silva, L., Ramalho, R., Quartau, R., Hipolito, A., Cordeiro, R., Rebelo, A.C., Madeira, P., Rovere, A., Hearty, P.J., Henriques, D., da Silva, C.M., de Frias martins, A., Zazo, C., 2015. A review of the MIS 5e highstand deposits from Santa Maria Island (Azores, NE Atlantic ): palaeobiodiversity , palaeoecology and palaeobiogeography. Sci. Rev. 114, 126–148. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.02.012