Late Quaternary vegetation-climate feedbacks Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstr. 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
Meteorological Institute, University Hamburg, Bundesstr. 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
*Invited contribution by M. Claussen, recipient of the EGU Milutin Milankovic Medal 2005.
Received: 29 Dec 2008 – Published in Clim. Past Discuss.: 24 Feb 2009 Abstract. Feedbacks between vegetation and other components of the climate system are
discussed with respect to their influence on climate dynamics during the
late Quaternary, i.e., the last glacial-interglacial cycles.
When weighting current understanding based on interpretation of palaeobotanic and
palaeoclimatic evidence by numerical climate system models, a number of
arguments speak in favour of vegetation dynamics being an amplifier of
orbital forcing. (a) The vegetation-snow albedo feedback in synergy with
the sea-ice albedo feedback tends to amplify Northern Hemisphere and global
mean temperature changes. (b) Variations in the extent of the largest desert
on Earth, the Sahara, appear to be amplified by biogeophysical feedback. (c)
Biogeochemical feedbacks in the climate system in relation to vegetation
migration are supposed to be negative on time scales of glacial cycles.
However, with respect to changes in global mean temperature, they are
presumably weaker than the positive biogeophysical feedbacks.
Revised: 13 May 2009 – Accepted: 14 May 2009 – Published: 03 Jun 2009
Citation: Claussen*, M.: Late Quaternary vegetation-climate feedbacks, Clim. Past, 5, 203-216, doi:10.5194/cp-5-203-2009, 2009.