Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Temperature Variability on a continental scale over the Past 2 Millennia

Changes of climate from the past had strong regional expression. The authors1 reconstructed the past temperatures of 7 continental-scale regions for the past 1-2 millennia, finding that in almost all the regions they had reconstructed temperature for, the most common feature they showed was a long-term cooling trend that ended in the late 19th century. Temperature variability patterns are distinctly different from regional patterns at multi-decadal to centennial scales, with more similarity occurring in each hemisphere than between the hemispheres. The reconstructions showed no multi-decadal warm periods, such as the Medieval Warm Period, or cold intervals, such as the Little Ice Age, that were globally synchronous, though between ad 1580-1880 all reconstructions indicate conditions were generally cold, in some regions being punctuated by warm decades in the 18th century. The region where the transition to these cold conditions was first experienced was the Arctic, Europe and Asia, later affecting regions in  North America and the Southern Hemisphere. Over the period ad 1971-2000 the long-term cooling trend was reversed by recent warming with the area-weighted average reconstructed temperature being higher than at any other time in almost 1,400 years.

Sources & Further reading

  1. PAGES 2k Consortium "Continental-scale temperature variability during the past two millennia", Nature Geosci 6, no. 5 (05//print 2013):


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated 18/05/2013
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