Earth's climate has undergone dramatic changes over the geologic timescale. At one extreme, Earth has been glaciated to the equator for periods that may have lasted millions of years. At another, temperatures were once so warm that the Canadian Arctic was heavily forested and large dinosaurs lived on Antarctica. Paleoclimatology is the study of such changes and their causes. Studying Earth's long-term climate history gives scientists vital clues about anthropogenic global warming and how climate is affected by human endeavor.
In Paleoclimate, Michael Bender, an internationally recognized authority on paleoclimate, provides a concise, comprehensive, and sophisticated introduction to the subject. After briefly describing the major periods in Earth history to provide geologic context, he discusses controls on climate and how the record of past climate is determined. The heart of Paleoclimate then proceeds chronologically, introducing the history of climate changes over millions of years – its patterns and major transitions, and why average global temperature has varied so much. The book ends with a discussion of the Holocene (the past 10,000 years) and by putting manmade climate change in the context of paleoclimate.
The most up-to-date overview on the subject, Paleoclimate provides an ideal introduction to undergraduates, nonspecialist scientists, and general readers with a scientific background.
"The work is well-written, with just enough mathematics to add to the reader's understanding, without causing confusion."
"The author has succeeded admirably in producing a clear, concise, yet detailed summary of a very important topic. The text is supplemented by an excellent selection of diagrams and data displays [...] and more than 300 references to the primary research literature. I found it easy to read yet thought provoking, consistently interesting and, perhaps best of all, not at all intimidating in bulk or style. Highly recommended!"
– William R. Green, Leading Edge
"Paleoclimate gives the reader a concise, clear view of how Earth's climate has changed over geologic time and the major drivers for this change. I heartily recommend the book for those interested in understanding Earth's rich climate complexity."
– Jeffrey T Kiehl, Reports of the National Center for Science Education
"Michael Bender, a giant in the field, fits the excitement, rigor, and deep insights of paleoclimatology into a succinct text suitable for a semester-long course introducing this indispensable branch of environmental science."
– Richard B. Alley, Pennsylvania State University
"The history of Earth's climate is an essential context for understanding anthropogenic climate change in the future. Michael Bender pulls together this vast area of science and distills it to the essentials, delivering a comprehensive view of the evolution of Earth's climate at a level useful to scientists and the general reader."
– Daniel Schrag, Harvard University
"Paleoclimatology has been missing a concise, modern, overview textbook, and I think this book will fill that niche. There is much ground to cover and the text does a good job of bringing the reader up to speed on most of the important patterns and processes in Earth's climatic history. The book combines excellent coverage of basic physical and chemical aspects of the climate system with a long-term historical overview of the climate system in action."
– Matthew Huber, Purdue University
"This concise but comprehensive history of Earth's climate hits all the right points and will serve equally well as an introductory textbook or as an entry into the field of paleoclimate."
– David W. Lea, University of California, Santa Barbara
List of Boxes vi
1 Earth's Climate System 1
2 The Faint Young Sun 24
3 Precambrian Glaciations 38
4 Regulation of the Earth System and Global Temperature 54
5 The Late Paleozoic Ice Ages 73
6 Equable Climates of the Mesozoic and Paleogene 97
7 The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 125
8 The Long Cooling of the Cenozoic 144
9 The Origin of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation and the Pleistocene Ice Ages 172
10 Rapid Climate Change during the Last Glacial Period 235
11 The Holocene 264
12 Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Context of Paleoclimate 287
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Michael L. Bender is professor of geosciences and atmospheric/ocean sciences at Princeton University, a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has taught paleoclimate at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and published widely on the topic in Science, Nature, and other journals.