Leading hypotheses for abrupt climate changes are focused on the ocean response to a freshening of surface waters in the north Atlantic. The degree to which such a freshening affects the deep, slow thermohaline, rather than the shallow, swift, wind-driven circulations of the ocean, and hence the degree to which that freshening affects climate in high rather than low latitudes, differ from model to model, depending on factors such as the treatment of diffusive processes in the oceans. Many comprehensive climate models are biased and confine the influence mainly to the thermohaline circulation and northern climates. Simulations of paleoclimates can provide valuable tests for the models, but only some of those climates provide sufficiently stringent tests to determine which models are realistic.
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