11 May 2022
11 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Climate of the Past (CP).

A theory of abrupt climate changes: their genesis and anatomy

Hsien-Wang Ou Hsien-Wang Ou
  • Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY10964, USA

Abstract. We integrate our previous ice-sheet and climate models to examine abrupt climate changes pertaining to Heinrich event (HE), Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) cycle as well as last deglaciation punctuated by Younger Dryas (YD). Since they are all accompanied by ice-rafted debris, we posit their common origin in the calving of ice sheet due to thermal switch at its bed. Such thermal switch would generate step-like freshwater flux and together with decadal ocean response, they would endow abruptness to these millennial climate signals, which need not involve ocean mode change, as commonly assumed. We distinguish thermal switches due to geothermal heat and surface melt, which would calve inland/marginal ice to drive HE/DO-cycle, respectively. As such, the glacial DO-cycle hinges on post-HE warmth that enables the ablation whereas the Holocene DO-cycle is self-sustaining. The ocean response to freshwater flux entails millennial adjustment to maximum entropy production (MEP), a process termed “MEP adjustment”. As its direct consequence, the termination of HE is accompanied by sudden warming followed by gradual cooling to exhibit saw-toothed H-cycle, and the cooling moreover would anchor DO-cycles to form the hierarchical Bond cycle. The meltwater produced during deglaciation, if rerouted to Hudson Bay, may augment the calving-induced freshwater flux to cause YD, the latter thus involves happenstance and did not materialize during penultimate deglaciation. By incorporating calving origin of the freshwater flux and MEP adjustment of the ocean, the theory has provided an integral account of these abrupt climate changes.

Hsien-Wang Ou

Status: open (until 06 Jul 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Hsien-Wang Ou

Hsien-Wang Ou


Total article views: 176 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
129 42 5 176 2 2
  • HTML: 129
  • PDF: 42
  • XML: 5
  • Total: 176
  • BibTeX: 2
  • EndNote: 2
Views and downloads (calculated since 11 May 2022)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 11 May 2022)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 171 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 171 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 16 May 2022
Short summary
We integrate our previous models to examine abrupt climate changes pertaining to Heinrich and Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles as well as deglaciation punctuated by Younger Dryas. We posit their common origin in the calving of ice sheet triggered by thermal switches at its bed, which are differentiated between that caused by geothermal heat and surface melt. Together with the ocean evolution toward maximum entropy production, the theory provides an integrated account of observed phenomena.