Contemporary Global Warming placed in geological context

Below is a rough comparison of contemporary Global Warming and estimates of past temperature change. This is a visualization in the vein of this plot on Wikipedia. Uncertainties increase substantially as estimates go back further in time. Time resolution also decreases further back in time so much of the high-frequency climate variability seen more recently would presumably also exist in the more distant past but is not detectable. Sources of data are below.

Hansen, J.E., and M. Sato (2012) Paleoclimate implications for human-made climate change. In Climate Change: Inferences from Paleoclimate and Regional Aspects. A. Berger, F. Mesinger, and D. Šijački, Eds. Springer, 21-48, doi:10.1007/978-3-7091-0973-1_2.

Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo (2010) Global surface temperature change, Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004, doi:10.1029/2010RG000345.

Mann, M. E, Z. Zhang, M. K. Hughes, R. S. Bradley, S. K. Miller, S. Rutherford, Fenbiao Ni (2008) Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia, PNAS, 105 (36) 13252-13257; doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805721105.

Marcott, S. A., J. D. Shakun, P. U. Clark, A. C. Mix (2013) A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years, Science, 339, 6124, 1198-1201

Lisiecki, L. E., and M. E. Raymo (2005), A Pliocene‐Pleistocene stack of 57 globally distributed benthic δ18O records, Paleoceanography, 20, PA1003, doi:10.1029/2004PA001071.

Shakun, J. D., P. U. Clark, F. He, S. A. Marcott, A. C. Mix, Z. Liu, B. Otto-Bliesner, A. Schmittner & E. Bard (2012) Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation, Nature 484, 49–54, doi:10.1038/nature10915.

Winkelmann, R., A. Levermann A. Ridgwell, K. Caldeira (2015) Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Science Advances, 2015: 1, 8, e1500589 doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500589.

Zachos, J., M. Pagani, L. Sloan, E. Thomas, and K. Billups, 2001: Trends, rhythms, and aberrations in global climate 65 Ma to present. Science, 292, 686-693. doi:10.1126/science.1059412

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7 Responses to Contemporary Global Warming placed in geological context

  1. Patrick,

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ll have to add this animation to my series that quantifies global warming:



  2. My comment on the Marcott et al paper that you cite can be seen here on the old version of the Science website.

    There was no response from any of the authors or any other climate scientists.

    • ptbrown31 says:

      Hi Paul, Thanks for this. I am aware of the controversy surrounding the “uptick” in the Marcott et al. reconstruction. In the graphic I produced, it defaults to using the instrumental data since 1880. So it essentially throws out Marcott et al.’s uptick and only uses the portion of the reconstruction that looks the same as in the PhD thesis.

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