An orbitally tropical source for abrupt climate change

A. C. Clement, M. A. Cane, R. Seager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Paleoclimatic data are increasingly showing that abrupt change is present in wide regions of the globe. Here a mechanism for abrupt climate change with global implications is presented. Results from a tropical coupled ocean-atmosphere model show that, under certain orbital configurations of the past. Variability associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) physics can abruptly lock to the seasonal cycle for several centuries, producing a mean sea surface temperature (SST) change in the tropical Pacific that resembles a La Niña. It is suggested that this change in SST would have a global impact and that abrupt events such as the Younger Dryas may be the outcome of orbitally driven changes in the tropical Pacific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2369-2375
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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