Advances in Earth Science ›› 2022, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (4): 417-428. doi: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2021.116

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Mechanisms of Greenhouse Climate at Low Atmospheric CO 2 Levels in the Late Miocene

Sihua WEI( ), Jun TIAN( )   

  1. School of Ocean and Earth Science,Tongji University,Shanghai 200092,China
  • Received:2021-07-15 Revised:2021-11-17 Online:2022-04-10 Published:2022-04-28
  • Contact: Jun TIAN;
  • About author:WEI Sihua (1997-), female, Nanping City, Fujian Province, Master student. Research areas include paleoceanography and paleoclimatology. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China "Probing the forcing mechanism of the late Miocene ocean carbon shift and its environmental significance"(42030403);"Probing the relationship of the Pacific meridional overturning circulation with the glacial/interglacial variability of climate change during the late Cenozoic"(41776051)

Sihua WEI, Jun TIAN. Mechanisms of Greenhouse Climate at Low Atmospheric CO 2 Levels in the Late Miocene[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2022, 37(4): 417-428.

The period of the late Miocene Tortonian (11.61~7.25 Ma) was warmer and wetter than today, with atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) near the preindustrial level. Greenhouse climate under low pCO2 was rare throughout the Cenozoic and understanding its mechanisms will help to better forecast the future climate. We summarized two hypotheses to elucidate this mechanism. One is the late Miocene climate-pCO2 "decoupling hypothesis" based on geological records, and the other is "synergistic effects hypothesis" based on climate modeling. Geological records indicate that the late Miocene climate may not have been affected by pCO2, that is, climate and pCO2 were decoupled. Climate modeling results indicate that different vegetation and tectonic conditions in the late Miocene may have contributed to the global temperature increase. However, realistically, it is difficult to fully simulate the amplitude and pattern of the late Miocene warmth. Future work should focus on reconstructing pCO2 records with high accuracy and resolution. Vegetation, clouds, water vapor feedback, and soil properties may be the dominant factors contributing to the late Miocene greenhouse climate, which should also be considered in future simulation work.

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