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Journal Article

Did humankind prevent a Holocene glaciation?

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Claussen, M., Brovkin, V., Calov, R., Ganopolski, A., & Kubatzki, C. (2005). Did humankind prevent a Holocene glaciation? Climatic Change, 69(2-3), 409-417. doi:10.1007/s10584-005-7276-2.

Cite as:
Recently, W.F. Ruddiman (2003, Climatic Change, Vol. 61, pp. 261-293) suggested that the anthropocene, the geological epoch of significant anthropospheric interference with the natural Earth system, has started much earlier than previously thought (P. I. Crutzen and E. F. Stoermer, 2000, IGBP Newsletter, Vol. 429, pp. 623-628). Ruddiman proposed that due to human land use, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4 began to deviate from their natural declining trends some 8000 and 5000 years ago, respectively. Furthermore, Ruddiman concluded that greenhouse gas concentrations grew anomalously thereby preventing natural large-scale glaciation of northern North America that should have occurred some 4000-5000 years ago without human interference. Here we would like to comment on (a) natural changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the Holocene and (b) on the possibility of a Holocene glacial inception. We substantiate our comments by modelling results which suggest that the last three interglacials are not a proper analogue for Holocene climate variations. In particular, we show that our model does not yield a glacial inception during the last several thousand years even if a declining trend in atmospheric CO2 was assumed.