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Abstract

Climate reconstructions of the Neoproterozoic Era (1000–542 Ma) face special challenges because many proxies used to constrain younger palaeoclimates are not available/applicable in Precambrian time. Given the few available proxies, deep time climate simulations are best viewed as a means to address more fundamental questions about the nature of climate change and to address disparities in data interpretation by examining phenomena from a process-related perspective. The Global Climate Model (GCM) simulations presented here were aimed at determining what combination of forcings might have permitted the initiation of low-to mid-latitude continental ice-sheets during the Sturtian glacial interval, c. 750 Ma. However, despite the formation of extensive extratropical ice cover, tropical regions in these experiments remain too warm for the initiation of large ice-sheets. The enhanced precipitation along the leading edge of icy regions suggests that the addition of topographic relief and dynamic ice flow could make ice-sheets viable into subtropical regions. However, these simulations suggest that ‘hard’ snowball Earth solutions are only likely for much earlier intervals in Earth history, and are certainly not viable in combination with large accumulations of greenhouse gases.

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