The quest to discover what drove the last, long-term global climate shift on Earth, which took place around a million years ago, has taken a new, revealing twist.
A team of researchers led by Dr Sev Kender from the University of Exeter, have found a fascinating new insight into the causes of the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT) – the phenomenon whereby the planet experienced longer, intensified cycles of extreme cold conditions.
While the causes of the MPT are not fully known, one of the most prominent theories suggests it may have been driven by reductions in glacial CO2 emissions.
Now, Dr Kender and his team have discovered that the closure of the Bering Strait during this period due to glaciation could have led the North Pacific to become stratified – or divided into distinct layers – causing CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere. This would, they suggest, have caused global cooling.
The team believe the latest discovery could provide a pivotal new understanding of how the MPT occurred, but also give a fresh insight into the driving factors behind global climate changes.