The Pliocene spans the interval of Earth history from ca. 5.3 to 1.8 million years ago (Ma). Although details are still debated there is much evidence from continental and oceanic locations indicating that conditions from 5.3 to about 3.0 Ma were often warmer than in modern times in mid- and high latitudes and that climate variability was subdued compared to the Pleistocene. Millennial-scale early Pliocene climate records are dominated by 19–21 thousand years ago (ka) oscillations. Starting at about 3.0 Ma, a long-term trend toward climate cooling and the ice ages of the Pleistocene accelerated. Significant build-up of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets began around 2.9 Ma and climate variability as measured by the oxygen isotope record in deep-sea carbonate microfossils increased. Distinct glacial–interglacial cycles developed in the late Pliocene between 2.9 and 2.7 Ma.
Additional publication details
|Publication type||Book chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Contributing office(s)||Coastal and Marine Geology Program|
|Larger Work Type||Book|
|Larger Work Subtype||Other Government Series|
|Larger Work Title||Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science|