The available evidence from the western United States suggests that the climate of the Early and Middle Pliocene (prior to ???2.4 Ma) was less seasonal (more equable) and generally more humid than now. Along the Pacific coast, summer drought was less pronounced than today. In the interior of the Pacific Northwest rainfall was more abundant and mild winter temperatures prevailed across much of the High Plains. In the Northwestern interior, a trend toward drier conditions began after ???4 Ma, although there may have been short periods of relatively humid conditions after this time. The period between 2.5 or 2.4-2.0 Ma was drier than earlier in the Pliocene throughout the American West, and apparently colder in many regions, although the occurrence of land tortoises as far north as Kansas may indicate intermittent frost-free conditions during this interval. After ???2.0 Ma conditions became warmer and more humid. The general climatic trends in the terrestrial data parallel fluctuations seen in North Pacific and in Oxygen Isotopic records of global glacial fluctuations. Global Climate Model (GCM) simulations of the regional effects of Late Cenozoic uplift and mountain-building are generally in accord with the nature, direction, and amplitude of differences between Pliocene and modern climates. ?? 1991.
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Pliocene environments and climates in the western United States