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Journal Article

Statistical precursor signals for Dansgaard–Oeschger cooling transitions


Mitsui,  Takahito
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Boers,  Niklas
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Mitsui, T., Boers, N. (2024): Statistical precursor signals for Dansgaard–Oeschger cooling transitions. - Climate of the Past, 20, 3, 683-699.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29754
Given growing concerns about climate tipping points and their risks, it is important to investigate the capability of identifying robust precursor signals for the associated transitions. In general, the variance and short-lag autocorrelations of the fluctuations increase in a stochastically forced system approaching a critical or bifurcation-induced transition, making them theoretically suitable indicators to warn of such transitions. Paleoclimate records provide useful test beds if such a warning of a forthcoming transition could work in practice. The Dansgaard–Oeschger (DO) events are characterized by millennial-scale abrupt climate changes during the glacial period, manifesting most clearly as abrupt temperature shifts in the North Atlantic region. Some previous studies have found such statistical precursor signals for the DO warming transitions. On the other hand, statistical precursor signals for the abrupt DO cooling transitions have not been identified. Analyzing Greenland ice core records, we find robust and statistically significant precursor signals of DO cooling transitions in most of the interstadials longer than roughly 1500 years but not in the shorter interstadials. The origin of the statistical precursor signals is mainly related to so-called rebound events, humps in the temperature observed at the end of interstadial, some decades to centuries prior to the actual transition. We discuss several dynamical mechanisms that give rise to such rebound events and statistical precursor signals.