The last interglaciation (LIG, 129 to 116 thousand years ago)
was the most recent time in Earth's history when global mean sea level was
substantially higher than it is at present. However, reconstructions of LIG
global temperature remain uncertain, with estimates ranging from no
significant difference to nearly 2°C warmer than present-day temperatures.
Here we use a network of sea-surface temperature (SST) records to
reconstruct spatiotemporal variability in regional and global SSTs during
the LIG. Our results indicate that peak LIG global mean annual SSTs were
0.5 ± 0.3°C warmer than the climatological mean from 1870 to 1889 and
indistinguishable from the 1995 to 2014 mean. LIG warming in the
extratropical latitudes occurred in response to boreal insolation and the
bipolar seesaw, whereas tropical SSTs were slightly cooler than the 1870 to
1889 mean in response to reduced mean insolation.
Dr. Jeremy Hoffman is the Climate & Earth Scientist at the Science Museum of Virginia. Jeremy earned his Ph.D. in Geology with a focus in Paleoclimatology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University with Peter Clark. Jeremy has served as a Science Communication Fellow for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and the Mitchell Hamline College of Law. His research now focuses on Virginia-specific climate impacts like urban heat islands and promoting environmental equity in our cities.
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