Tropical mountain ice core δ18O: A Goldilocks indicator for global temperature change

Zhengyu Liu, Yuntao Bao, Lonnie G. Thompson, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Clay Tabor, Guang J. Zhang, Mi Yan, Marcus Lofverstrom, Isabel Montanez, Jessica Oster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Very high tropical alpine ice cores provide a distinct paleoclimate record for climate changes in the middle and upper troposphere. However, the climatic interpretation of a key proxy, the stable water oxygen isotopic ratio in ice cores (δ18Oice), remains an outstanding problem. Here, combining proxy records with climate models, modern satellite measurements, and radiative-convective equilibrium theory, we show that the tropical δ18Oice is an indicator of the temperature of the middle and upper troposphere, with a glacial cooling of −7.35° ± 1.1°C (66% CI). Moreover, it severs as a “Goldilocks-type” indicator of global mean surface temperature change, providing the first estimate of glacial stage cooling that is independent of marine proxies as −5.9° ± 1.2°C. Combined with all estimations available gives the maximum likelihood estimate of glacial cooling as −5.85° ± 0.51°C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereadi6725
JournalScience Advances
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 10 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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