Coherent resonant millennial-scale climate oscillations triggered by massive meltwater pulses

Axel Timmermann*, Hezi Gildor, Michael Schulz, Eli Tziperman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The role of mean and stochastic freshwater forcing on the generation of millennial-scale climate variability in the North Atlantic is studied using a low-order coupled atmosphere ocean-sea ice model. It is shown that millennial-scale oscillations can be excited stochastically, when the North Atlantic Ocean is fresh enough. This finding is used in order to interpret the aftermath of massive iceberg surges (Heinrich events) in the glacial North Atlantic, which are characterized by an excitation of Dansgaard-Oeschger events. Based on model results, it is hypothesized that Heinrich events trigger Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles and that furthermore the occurrence of Heinrich events is dependent on the accumulated climatic effect of a series of Dansgaard-Oeschger events. This scenario leads to a coupled ocean-ice sheet oscillation that shares many similarities with the Bond cycle. Further sensitivity experiments reveal that the timescale of the oscillations can be decomposed into stochastic, linear, and nonlinear deterministic components. A schematic bifurcation diagram is used to compare theoretical results with paleoclimatic data.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2569-2585
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Coherent resonant millennial-scale climate oscillations triggered by massive meltwater pulses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this