Document Detail

Closing of the Indonesian seaway as a precursor to east African aridification around 3-4 million years ago.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11346785     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Global climate change around 3-4 Myr ago is thought to have influenced the evolution of hominids, via the aridification of Africa, and may have been the precursor to Pleistocene glaciation about 2.75 Myr ago. Most explanations of these climatic events involve changes in circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean due to the closing of the Isthmus of Panama. Here we suggest, instead, that closure of the Indonesian seaway 3-4 Myr ago could be responsible for these climate changes, in particular the aridification of Africa. We use simple theory and results from an ocean circulation model to show that the northward displacement of New Guinea, about 5 Myr ago, may have switched the source of flow through Indonesia-from warm South Pacific to relatively cold North Pacific waters. This would have decreased sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, leading to reduced rainfall over eastern Africa. We further suggest that the changes in the equatorial Pacific may have reduced atmospheric heat transport from the tropics to higher latitudes, stimulating global cooling and the eventual growth of ice sheets.
M A Cane; P Molnar
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Historical Article; Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Nature     Volume:  411     ISSN:  0028-0836     ISO Abbreviation:  Nature     Publication Date:  2001 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2001-05-10     Completed Date:  2001-06-21     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0410462     Medline TA:  Nature     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  157-62     Citation Subset:  IM    
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York 01964-8000, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Africa, Eastern
Cold Climate
Desert Climate*
History, Ancient
Indian Ocean
Models, Theoretical
New Guinea
Pacific Ocean
Reg. No./Substance:
Comment In:
Nature. 2001 May 10;411(6834):142-3   [PMID:  11346771 ]

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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