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  • March 20, 2019
  • Reischmann, Elizabeth
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geological Sciences
  • Synchronization is a widespread phenomenon in nonlinear, physical systems. It describes the phenomena of two or more weakly interacting, nonlinear oscillators adjust their natural frequencies until they come into phase and frequency lock. This behavior has been observed in biological, chemical and electronic systems, including neurons, fireflies, and computers, but has not been widely studied in climate. This thesis presents a study of several major examples of synchronized climatic systems, starting with ice age timings seemingly caused by the global climate’s gradual synchronization to the Earth’s 413kyr orbital eccentricity band, which may be responsible for the shift of ice age timings and amplitudes at the Mid-Pleistocene transition. The focus of the thesis, however, is centered the second major example of stable synchronization in the climate system: the continuous, 90 degree phase relationship of the polar climate signals for the entirety of the available ice record. The existence of a relationship between polar climates has been widely observed since ice core proxies became available in both Greenland and Antarctica. However, my work focuses on refining this phase relationship, utilizing it’s linear nature to apply deconvolution and establish an energy transfer function. This transfer function shows a distinctly singular frequency, suggesting that climate signal is predominately communicated north to south with a period of 1.6kyrs. This narrows down possible mechanisms of polar connection dramatically, and is further investigated via a collection of intermediate proxy datasets and a set of more contemporary, synchronized, sea surface temperature dipoles. While the former fails to show any strong indication of the nature of the polar signal due in part to the overwhelming uncertainties present on the centennial and millennial scales, the latter demonstrates a large set of synchronized climate oscillations exist, communicate in a variety of networks, and have a direct connection to larger climate patterns (in this case, precipitation anomalies). Overall, this thesis represents a clear advance in our understanding of global climate dynamics, presents a new method of climate time series analysis, evidence of 16, stable, synchronized sea surface temperature dipoles, and provides a detailed sediment core database with explanations of age model limitations for future investigation.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Wise, Erika
  • Pavelsky, Tamlin
  • Lees, Jonathan
  • Rial, Jose
  • Surge, Donna M.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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