Friday, 8 June 2012


Apparently, sea surface temperatures in the late Miocine period (12 to 5 million years ago) were higher than today, even though atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was lower.

Lewis Page read the new paper by La Riviere et al for the Register.

Their choice of phrasing to describe the implication between sea surface temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide?


Instead, their suggested explanation for the high temperatures in the oceans is cloud and water vapour feedback - entirely natural mechanisms that might also explain the present warming trend as a recovery from the "little ice age".


  1. Based on the abstract and the editor's summary, the author's primary explanation is the depth of the thermocline and not so much cloud and water vapor feedback.

  2. That's true.

    But.. I don't really understand how the thermocline layer works; it's not clear whether it is subject to an adiabatic circulation like air in the atmosphere.

  3. Then again ...

    The Pacific Ocean in the late Miocene was very warm, and the thermocline, the boundary that separates warmer surface waters from cooler underlying waters, was much deeper than in the present.

    The scientists suggest that this deep thermocline resulted in a distribution of atmospheric water vapor and clouds that could have maintained the warm global climate.


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