An energy balance model for paleoclimate transitions

Dortmans, Brady; Langford, William F.; Willms, Allan R.

A new energy balance model (EBM) is presented and is used to study paleoclimate transitions. While most previous EBMs only dealt with the globally averaged climate, this new EBM has three variants: Arctic, Antarctic and tropical climates. The EBM incorporates the greenhouse warming effects of both carbon dioxide and water vapour, and also includes ice–albedo feedback and evapotranspiration. The main conclusion to be inferred from this EBM is that the climate system may possess multiple equilibrium states, both warm and frozen, which coexist mathematically. While the actual climate can exist in only one of these states at any given time, the EBM suggests that climate can undergo transitions between the states via mathematical saddle-node bifurcations. This paper proposes that such bifurcations have actually occurred in Paleoclimate transitions. The EBM is applied to the study of the Pliocene paradox, the glaciation of Antarctica and the so-called warm, equable climate problem of both the mid-Cretaceous Period and the Eocene Epoch. In all cases, the EBM is in qualitative agreement with the geological record.

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Dortmans, Brady / Langford, William F. / Willms, Allan R.: An energy balance model for paleoclimate transitions. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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