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Warm oceans helped first human migration from Asia to North America

The Pacific Ocean's currents support a diverse ecosystem, seen here from space with green indicating blooms of photosynthesizing plankton. Warmer currents during the ice age may also have supported early human settlements. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, The SeaWiFS Project and GeoEye, Scientific Visualization Studio

New research reveals significant changes to the circulation of the North Pacific and its impact on the initial migration of humans from Asia to North America.

The new international study led by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews and published Dec. 9 in Science Advances provides a new picture of the circulation and climate of the North Pacific at the end of the last ice age with implications for early human migration.

The Pacific Ocean contains around half the water in Earth's oceans and is a vast reservoir of heat and CO2. However, at present, the sluggish circulation of North Pacific restricts this heat and CO2's movement, limiting its impact on climate.

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