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File:Five Myr Climate Change.svg

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reconstruction of the past 5 million years of climate history, based on oxygen isotope fractionation (serving as a proxy for the total global mass of glacial ice sheets). See the discussion below for a summary of the methods and models used.

Note that the resolution of the graph has suffered in the conversion from png to svg. Use the original png if possible.

Also note that in 2010, User:SeL media switched the orientation of the time axis and the vertical axes, apparently without discussion, and some descriptions of the image may refer to the older version, resulting in confusion of 'right' and 'left' in the image.

Date (svg file 2009-02-07)
Source svg-version of Five_Myr_Climate_Change.png; original image by User:Dragons flight, based on data (figure 4?) from Lisiecki and Raymo (2005)
Author Dragons flight (Robert A. Rohde), svg by Jo
(Reusing this file)

This figure was prepared by Robert A. Rohde based on published data and is incorporated into the Global Warming Art project.

Other versions

Five_Myr_Climate_Change.png, Derivative works of this file: Five Myr Climate Change-ml.svg Five Myr Climate Change (de)


Expansion of changes during the recent sequence of glacials and interglacials
Climate change during the last 65 million years

This figure shows the climate record of Lisiecki and Raymo (2005) [1] constructed by combining measurements from 57 globally distributed deep sea sediment cores. The measured quantity is oxygen isotope fractionation (δ18O) in benthic foraminifera, which serves as a proxy for the total global mass of glacial ice sheets.

Lisiecki and Raymo constructed this record by first applying a computer aided process of adjusting individual "wiggles" in each sediment core to have the same alignment (i.e. wiggle matching). Then the resulting stacked record is orbitally tuned by adjusting the positions of peaks and valleys to fall at times consistent with an orbitally driven ice model (see: Milankovitch cycles). Both sets of these adjustments are constrained to be within known uncertainties on sedimentation rates and consistent with independently dated tie points (if any). Constructions of this kind are common, however they presume that ice sheets are orbitally driven, and hence data such as this can not be used in establishing the existence of such a relationship.

The observed isotope variations are very similar in shape to the temperature variations recorded at Vostok, Antarctica during the 420 kyr for which that record exists. Hence the right hand scale of the figure was established by fitting the reported temperature variations at Vostok (Petit et al. 1999) to the observed isotope variations. Hence, this temperature scale should be regarded as approximate and its magnitude is only representative of Vostok changes. In particular, temperature changes at polar sites, such as Vostok, frequently exceed the changes observed in the tropics or in the global average. A horizontal line at 0 °C indicates modern temperatures (circa 1950).

Labels are added to indicate regions where 100 kyr and 41 kyr cyclicity is observed. These periodicities match periodic changes in Earth's orbital eccentricity and obliquity respectively, and have been previously established by other studies (not relying on orbital tuning). For discussion of how such orbital changes might drive climate change, see Milankovitch cycles.


  • Lisiecki, L. E., and M. E. Raymo (2005), A Pliocene-Pleistocene stack of 57 globally distributed benthic δ18O records, Paleoceanography, 20, PA1003, doi:10.1029/2004PA001071; data: doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.704257. — bundled as {{cite DOI|10.1029/2004PA001071}}
  • Petit J.R., Jouzel J., Raynaud D., Barkov N.I., Barnola J.M., Basile I., Bender M., Chappellaz J., Davis J., Delaygue G., Delmotte M., Kotlyakov V.M., Legrand M., Lipenkov V., Lorius C., Pépin L., Ritz C., Saltzman E., Stievenard M. (1999) Climate and Atmospheric History of the Past 420,000 years from the Vostok Ice Core, Antarctica, Nature, 399, pp.429-436, doi:10.1038/20859.


Image from Global Warming Art
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Dragons flight's Temperature Record Series
This figure is part of a series of plots created by Dragons flight to illustrate
changes in Earth's temperature and climate across many different time scales.
Time Period: 25 yrs | 150 yrs | 1 kyr | 2 kyr | 12 kyr | 450 kyr | 5 Myr | 65 Myr | 500 Myr
For articles related to this topic see: Temperature record

File history

Click on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time.

current13:45, 18 July 2010Thumbnail for version as of 13:45, 18 July 20101,024 × 372 (55 KB)SeL mediatime axis reversed
22:16, 7 February 2009Thumbnail for version as of 22:16, 7 February 20091,024 × 372 (51 KB)Jo Webersome minor fixes
21:42, 7 February 2009Thumbnail for version as of 21:42, 7 February 20091,025 × 393 (50 KB)Jo WeberChanged text to path
21:39, 7 February 2009Thumbnail for version as of 21:39, 7 February 20091,025 × 393 (32 KB)Jo Weber{{Information |Description=svg-version of Five_Myr_Climate_Change.png |Source=see below |Date=2009-02-07 |Author=Dragons flight, svg by Jo |Permission=see below |other_version

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