Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary

3rd Edition - December 28, 2013

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  • Author: Raymond Bradley
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123869951
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123869135

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Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary, Third Edition—winner of a 2015 Textbook Excellence Award (Texty) from The Text and Academic Authors Association—provides a thorough overview of the methods of paleoclimatic reconstruction and of the historical changes in climate during the past three million years. This thoroughly updated and revised edition systematically examines each type of proxy and elucidates the major attributes and the limitations of each. Paleoclimatology, Third Edition provides necessary context for those interested in understanding climate changes at present and how current trends in climate compare with changes that have occurred in the past. The text is richly illustrated and includes an extensive bibliography for further research.

Key Features

  • Winner of a 2015 Texty Award from the Text and Academic Authors Association
  • A comprehensive overview of the methods of paleoclimate reconstruction, and the record of past changes in climate during the last ~3 million years
  • Addresses all the techniques used in paleoclimatic reconstruction from climate proxies
  • With full-color throughout, and thoroughly revised chapters on dating methods, climate forcing, ice cores, marine sediments, pollen analysis, dendroclimatology, and historical records
  • Includes new chapters on speleothems, loess, and lake sediments
  • More than 1,000 new references and 190 new figures
  • Essential reading for those interested in how present trends in climate compare with changes that have occurred in the past


Advanced undergraduate and graduate students and researchers in climatology, Quaternary sciences, glaciology, archaeology, paleo-oceanography, paleoecology, geomorphology, and palynology.

Table of Contents

  • Dedication


    Front Cover Photograph

    Holocene Rock Art from the Northwestern Flanks of the Ennedi Highlands, Eastern Sahara, Chad



    Preface to the Third Edition

    Chapter 1. Paleoclimatic Reconstruction


    1.1 Introduction

    1.2 Sources of Paleoclimatic Information

    1.3 Levels of Paleoclimatic Analysis

    1.4 Modeling in Paleoclimatic Research


    Chapter 2. Climate and Climatic Variation


    2.1 The Nature of Climate and Climatic Variation

    2.2 The Climate System

    2.3 Feedback Mechanisms

    2.4 Energy Balance of the Earth and Its Atmosphere

    2.5 Timescales of Climatic Variation

    2.6 Variations of the Earth’s Orbital Parameters

    2.7 Solar Forcing

    2.8 Volcanic Forcing


    Chapter 3. Dating Methods I


    3.1 Introduction and Overview

    3.2 Radioisotopic Methods


    Chapter 4. Dating Methods II


    4.1 Paleomagnetism

    4.2 Dating Methods Involving Chemical Changes

    4.3 Tephrochronology

    4.4 Biological Dating Methods


    Chapter 5. Ice Cores


    5.1 Introduction

    5.2 Stable Isotope Analysis

    5.3 Dating Ice Cores

    5.4 Paleoclimatic Reconstruction from Ice Cores


    Chapter 6. Marine Sediments


    6.1 Introduction

    6.2 Paleoclimatic Information from Biological Material in Ocean Cores

    6.3 Oxygen Isotope Studies of Calcareous Marine Fauna

    6.4 Paleotemperatures from Relative Abundance Studies

    6.5 Paleotemperature Reconstruction from Sediment Geochemistry

    6.6 Oceanographic Conditions at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM)

    6.7 Paleoclimatic Information from Inorganic Material in Marine Sediments

    6.8 Thermohaline Circulation of the Oceans

    6.9 Changes in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: The Role of the Oceans

    6.10 Abrupt Climate Changes


    Chapter 7. Loess


    7.1 Chronology of Loess-Paleosol Sequences

    7.2 Paleoclimatic Significance of Loess-Paleosol Sequences


    Chapter 8. Speleothems


    8.1 Isotopic Variations in Speleothems

    8.2 Tropical and Subtropical Paleoclimate Variability from Speleothems

    8.3 Speleothems and Glacial Terminations

    8.4 Millennial to Centennial Scale Changes

    8.5 Late Glacial and Holocene Records

    8.6 Stalagmite Records of the Last Two Millennia

    8.7 Paleoclimatic Information from Periods of Speleothem Growth

    8.8 Speleothems as Indicators of Sea-Level Variations


    Chapter 9. Lake Sediments


    9.1 Sedimentology and Inorganic Geochemistry

    9.2 Varves

    9.3 Pollen, Macrofossils, and Phytoliths

    9.4 Ostracods

    9.5 Diatoms

    9.6 Stable Isotopes

    9.7 Organic Biomarkers


    Chapter 10. Nonmarine Geologic Evidence


    10.1 Introduction

    10.2 Periglacial Features

    10.3 Snowlines and Glaciation Thresholds

    10.4 Mountain Glacier Fluctuations

    10.5 Lake-level Fluctuations


    Chapter 11. Insects and Other Biological Evidence from Continental Regions


    11.1 Introduction

    11.2 Insects

    11.3 Former Vegetation Distribution from Plant Macrofossils

    11.4 Peat


    Chapter 12. Pollen


    12.1 Introduction

    12.2 The Basis of Pollen Analysis

    12.3 Pollen Rain as a Representation of Vegetation Composition and Climate

    12.4 Quantitative Paleoclimatic Reconstructions Based on Pollen Analysis

    12.5 Paleoclimatic Reconstruction from Long Quaternary Pollen Records


    Chapter 13. Tree Rings


    13.1 Introduction

    13.2 Fundamentals of Dendroclimatology

    13.3 Dendroclimatic Reconstructions

    13.4 Isotopic Dendroclimatology


    Chapter 14. Corals


    14.1 Coral Records of Past Climate

    14.2 Paleoclimate from Coral Growth Rates

    14.3 Luminescence in Corals

    14.4 δ18O in Corals

    14.5 δ13C in Corals

    14.6 Δ14C in Corals

    14.7 Trace Elements in Corals

    14.8 Fossil Coral Records


    Chapter 15. Historical Documents


    15.1 Introduction

    15.2 Historical Records and Their Interpretation

    15.3 Regional Studies Based on Historical Records

    15.4 Records of Climate Forcing Factors

    15.5 Climate Paradigms for the Last Millennium


    Appendix A. Further Considerations on Radiocarbon Dating

    A.1 Calculation of Radiocarbon Age and Standardization Procedure

    A.2 Fractionation Effects


    Appendix B. Internet Resources in Paleoclimatology



Product details

  • No. of pages: 696
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2014
  • Published: December 28, 2013
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123869951
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123869135

About the Author

Raymond Bradley

Raymond S. Bradley has been involved in many national and international activities related to paleoclimatology, most notably as the current Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program on Past Global Changes (IGBP-PAGES). He has published dozens of articles in scientific journals, and has edited several important books in paleoclimatology. The first edition of Quaternary Paleoclimatology has been the definitive text in this field for over a decade. His research is in climatology, specifically in climatic change and the evidence for how the earth’s climate has varied in the past. He has carried out research on climate variation, both on the long (glacial and interglacial) time-scale and on the short (historical and instrumental) time-scale, involving the analysis of data from all over the world. In recent years he has been involved in studies of natural climate variability, to provide a background for understanding potential anthropogenic changes in climate resulting from rapid increases in "greenhouse gases" over the last century or so. R.S. Bradley has been a professor in the Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, since 1984. He has been Head of the Department of Geosciences since 1993. Additionally, he is a member of Clare Hall at Cambridge.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

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  • Ming T. Mon Aug 10 2020


    I have already adopted the third edition in my teaching, and some suggestions for revision of the current edition are as follows: 1. One appropriate cognition is that a future paleoclimatologist should be one, or at least half, climatologist, because "paleoclimate" only added the word "paleo", means ancient, before the word "climate". As a textbook, we should first tell students that the basic concepts of climatology are rearly the same in modern and ancient times. however, some graduate students who take paleoclimatology as an elective course are non climate majors in their undergraduate stage. Therefore, we need to give these students some basic climatological concepts firstly before learning paleoclimatology. Otherwise, the students who study paleoclimatology will establish a confused concept after completing the course, that is, PALEOCLIMATE might be a "monster" that has no connection with the climate that we are experiencing at present. It is thus suggested that the first chapter and the second chapter coud be changed for their order. Or, at the beginning of the book, make it clear to students that climatology is the basis of studying paleoclimatology, and on the other side, once we recognize the paleoclimate, it will be of great help to understand the modern climate. 2. The third edition is a catalogue of methodology. Although this has the advantage of allowing students to understand the characteristics of various paleoclimate records and different research methods, there is a lack of comparison of common proxies among these records. For example, stable isotopes from lake sediments and tree rings or speleothems, they may have something in common? Students who are active in thoughts are bound to ask such questions. Therefore, as a textbook, the design of knowledge framework could think ahead of time to meet the curiosity of students stimulated by the textbook information itself. 3. As a textbook for graduate students, we should not only introduce them with basic professional knowledge and skills, but also inspire them to raise questions and promote scientific progress in the future. Therefore, it is our responsibility to tell them the uncertain problems and major theory problems in this discipline truthfully, and to let students know that earth science, including climate science especially paleoclimatology, in fact, few problems have been solved successfully. Therefore, it is suggested that a “question chapter” should be added for students to discuss and explore. I hope that the above is useful for the new edition.