Marine Isotope Stage 11: Palaeoclimates, palaeoenvironments and its role as an analogue for the current interglacial

Ian Candy*, Danielle C. Schreve, Jennifer Sherriff, Gareth J. Tye

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Interglacials of the Quaternary Period are currently the focus of a great deal of attention within the scientific community. This is primarily because they play a vital role in distinguishing between "natural" and "human" climate change in the current interglacial and in understanding how the Holocene would evolve in the absence of anthropogenic greenhouse warming. In this respect, Marine Isotope Stage 11 (MIS 11, ca 410,000. yr BP) is one of the key interglacial stages of the past 450,000. yr. The pattern of insolation variability that occurs during MIS 11 matches that which occurs in the Holocene more closely than in any other warm stage of the past half a million years. In addition there is now an extensive range of evidence for MIS 11 palaeoclimates and palaeoenvironments from marine, ice core, lacustrine and terrestrial sequences. The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive review of the current state of our understanding of MIS 11. This is the first paper to provide a detailed review of MIS 11 that incorporates the wide range of marine, ice core, long lacustrine and terrestrial records that have been generated over the last ten years since the last major overview. Crucially, it is the first review of MIS 11 that incorporates a detailed synthesis of the high-resolution terrestrial sequences of western and central Europe. This paper, therefore, provides a holistic integration of a diverse range of proxies and archives to provide a detailed understanding of the expression of MIS 11 in the Earth system. In particular the review focuses on: (1) the climatic background of MIS 11, (2) the robustness of the identification of MIS 11 in a diverse range of sequences, (3) the climatic structure of MIS 11, (4) the magnitude of warmth that occurred in this warm stage, (5) MIS 11 sea level magnitude and variability, (6) the duration of MIS 11, (7) evidence for abrupt climatic events within the interglacial of MIS 11 and (8) precipitation patterns and trends during this interglacial. The paper concludes by considering how useful MIS 11 is as an analogue for Holocene climates and compares it with other proposed analogues, such as MIS 19, with particular reference to the "early anthropogenic" hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-51
Number of pages34
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Anthropogenic warming
  • Holocene
  • Interglacials
  • Marine Isotope Stage 11
  • Pleistocene
  • Quaternary


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