Glacial–interglacial temperature change in the tropical West Pacific: A comparison of stalagmite-based paleo-thermometers

Meckler, A. Nele; Affolter, Stéphane; Dublyansky, Yuri V.; Krüger, Yves; Vogel, Nadia; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Frenz, Martin; Kipfer, Rolf; Leuenberger, Markus; Spötl, Christoph; Carolin, Stacy; Cobb, Kim M.; Moerman, Jessica; Adkins, Jess F.; Fleitmann, Dominik (2015). Glacial–interglacial temperature change in the tropical West Pacific: A comparison of stalagmite-based paleo-thermometers. Quaternary Science Reviews, 127, pp. 90-116. Pergamon 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.06.015

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In the tropics, geochemical records from stalagmites have so far mainly been used to qualitatively reconstruct changes in precipitation, but several new methods to reconstruct past temperatures from stalagmite material have emerged recently: i) liquide vapor homogenization of fluid inclusion water ii) noble gas concentrations in fluid inclusion water, iii) the partitioning of oxygen isotopes between fluid inclusion water and calcite, and iv) the abundance of the 13C18O16O(‘clumped’) isotopologue in calcite. We present, for the first time, a direct comparison of these four paleo-thermometers by applying them to a fossil stalagmite covering nearly two glaciale interglacial cycles (Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 12 e 9) and to two modern stalagmites, all from northern Borneo. The temperature estimates from the different methods agree in most cases within errors for both the old and recent samples; reconstructed formation temperatures of the recent samples match within 2-sigma errors with measured cave temperatures. However, slight but systematic deviations are observed between noble gas and liquide vapor homogenization temperatures. Whereas the temperature sensitivity of fluid inclusion d18O and clumped isotopes is currently debated, we find that the calibration of Tremaine et al. (2011) for fluid inclusion d18O and a synthetic calcite-based clumped isotope calibration (Ziegler et al., in prep.) yield temperature estimates consistent with the other methods. All methods (with the potential exception of clumped isotopes) show excellent agreement on the amplitude of glaciale interglacial temperature change, indicating temperature shifts of 4-5 C°. This amplitude is similar to the amplitude of Mg/Ca-based regional sea surface temperature records, when correcting for sea level driven changes in cave elevation. Our reconstruction of tropical temperature evolution over the time period from 440 to 320 thousand years ago (ka) adds support to the view that climate sensitivity to varying greenhouse forcing is substantial also in the deep tropics.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Applied Physics

Graduate School:

Graduate School of Climate Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Affolter, Stéphane; Frenz, Martin and Leuenberger, Markus


500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
600 Technology > 620 Engineering








Doris Rätz

Date Deposited:

04 Nov 2015 14:03

Last Modified:

20 Sep 2021 11:02

Publisher DOI:





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