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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Clim. Past Discuss., 8, 4923-4939, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
05 Oct 2012
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP). A final paper in CP is not foreseen.
Estimate of climate sensitivity from carbonate microfossils dated near the Eocene-Oligocene global cooling
M. W. Asten
School of Geosciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia

Abstract. Climate sensitivity is a crucial parameter in global temperature modelling. An estimate is made at the time 33.4 Ma using published high-resolution deep-sea temperature proxy obtained from foraminiferal δ18O records from DSDP site 744, combined with published data for atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) from carbonate microfossils, where δ11B provides a proxy for pCO2. The pCO2 data shows a pCO2 decrease accompanying the major cooling event of about 4 °C from greenhouse conditions to icecap conditions following the Eocene-Oligocene boundary (33.7 My). During the cooling pCO2 fell from 1150 to 770 ppmv. The cooling event was followed by a rapid and huge increase in pCO2 back to 1130 ppmv in the space of 50 000 yr. The large pCO2 increase was accompanied by a small deep-ocean temperature increase estimated as 0.59 ± 0.063 °C. Climate sensitivity estimated from the latter is 1.1 ± 0.4 °C (66% confidence) compared with the IPCC central value of 3 °C. The post Eocene-Oligocene transition (33.4 Ma) value of 1.1 °C obtained here is lower than those published from Holocene and Pleistocene glaciation-related temperature data (800 Kya to present) but is of similar order to sensitivity estimates published from satellite observations of tropospheric and sea-surface temperature variations. The value of 1.1 °C is grossly different from estimates up to 9 °C published from paleo-temperature studies of Pliocene (3 to 4 Mya) age sediments. The range of apparent climate sensitivity values available from paleo-temperature data suggests that either feedback mechanisms vary widely for the different measurement conditions, or additional factors beyond currently used feedbacks are affecting global temperature-CO2 relationships.

Citation: Asten, M. W.: Estimate of climate sensitivity from carbonate microfossils dated near the Eocene-Oligocene global cooling, Clim. Past Discuss., 8, 4923-4939, doi:10.5194/cpd-8-4923-2012, 2012.
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