Global and African Regional Climate during the Cenozoic
Many events in global tectonics and high latitude climate had significant effects on Cenozoic climate evolution. This chapter explores three revolutions in climate research that have dramatically altered our perception of global and African climate. First, the discovery that large magnitude climate events occurred abruptly, sometimes in as little as decades, has prompted high-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions and new conceptions of climate dynamics. Second, recent climate studies have revealed significant tropical climate variability. Modern observational climate data have indicated that the largest mode of global interannual climate variability is the El Niño Southern Oscillation in the tropical Pacific. Revised estimates of tropical sea surface temperatures during global cool and warm events have revealed significant tropical sensitivity to global climate change. Third, the role of the tropics in global climate change has been reconceptualized. This chapter also discusses the modern climate of Africa, abrupt events in the Paleocene, Oligocene Antarctic glaciation and Southern African climate, mid-Miocene climate change in Africa, plio-Pleistocene environmental change, cool and dry conditions during the Last Glacial Maximum, and Holocene climate.
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