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Climate Instability During the Penultimate Glacial Age
Ding, Z.L., Ren, J.Z., Yang, S.L. and Liu, T.S.  1999.  Climate instability during the penultimate glaciation: Evidence from two high-resolution loess records, China.  Journal of Geophysical Research 104: 20,123-20,132.

What was done
Using a technique based on the grain size of particles in soil cores removed from sections of the northwestern part of the Chinese Loess Plateau, the authors reconstructed a high-resolution record of climate changes during the last two glacial-interglacial cycles.

What was learned
The authors report that "frequent, large-amplitude climatic oscillations on millennial timescales occurred during the penultimate glaciation in a manner similar to that during the last glaciation, suggesting that suborbital-scale climatic variations may be a common feature of the climate system during glacial periods."  On the other hand, their data imply the absence of strong millennial-scale climatic oscillations during the last interglacial period.

What it means
Both of these observations are in harmony with results that have been obtained by a number of other investigators.  They suggest that glacial periods are much more climatically-variable than are interglacials.  Hence, although it is not unusual to experience climatic variability of the type representative of the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, and the warming of the past century, it is unlikely that we will see - for whatever reason - a climatic change of the magnitude that is continually hyped as a reason for reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Reviewed 1 February 2000