Journal Highlights

Characterizing Interglacial Periods Over the Past 800,000 Years

From Research Spotlight—

Researchers identified 11 different interglacial periods over the past 800,000 years, but the interglacial period we are experiencing now may last an exceptionally long time.

Global climate patterns have undergone a remarkable shift in the last 600,000 to 1.2 million years. Before the transition, glacial cycles, consisting of cold ice ages and milder interludes, typically lasted about 40,000 years—but those weaker cycles gave way to longer-lasting icy eras with cycles lasting roughly 100,000 years. In between the cold ice ages are periods of thawing and warming known as interglacial periods, during which sea levels rise and ice retreats. Here, Past Interglacials Working Group of PAGES identifies and compares interglacial periods over the last 800,000 years, including our current era... more

Insights on Climate Systems from Interglacials

From Editors’ Vox

Interglacials provide insights into the impacts of warmer than present conditions in certain regions of Earth—An interview with a lead author from a recent Reviews of Geophysics Paper.

Interglacials, including the present (Holocene) period, are warm, low land ice extent (high sea level), end-members of glacial cycles. A recent article from the Past Interglacials Working Group of PAGES in Reviews of GeophysicsInterglacials of the last 800,000 years,  identifies 11 interglacials, summarizes the common features and differences between them, and highlights how particular interglacials can enlighten us about the climate system. They also describe the likely extent of the present interglacial both in the absence and presence of human influence on the climate system. AGU asked the authors of the article to highlight the important results that have emerged from their research and some of the important questions that remain... more