The Warm Winter Paradox in the Pliocene High Latitudes

Tindall, Julia C., Haywood, Alan M., Salzmann, Ulrich, Dolan, Aisling M. and Fletcher, Tamara (2021) The Warm Winter Paradox in the Pliocene High Latitudes. Climate of the Past (CP). ISSN 1814-9324 (In Press)

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Reconciling palaeodata with model simulations of the Pliocene climate is essential for understanding a world with atmospheric CO2 concentration near 400 parts per million by volume. Both models and data indicate an amplified warming of the high latitudes during the Pliocene, however terrestrial data suggests Pliocene high latitude temperatures were much higher than can be simulated by models.

Here we show that understanding the Pliocene high latitude terrestrial temperatures is particularly difficult for the coldest months, where the temperatures obtained from models and different proxies can vary by more than 20 °C. We refer to this mismatch as the ‘warm winter paradox’.

Analysis suggests the warm winter paradox could be due to a number of factors including: model structural uncertainty, proxy data not being strongly constrained by winter temperatures, uncertainties on data reconstruction methods and also that the Pliocene high latitude climate does not have a modern analogue. Refinements to model boundary conditions or proxy dating are unlikely to contribute significantly to the resolution of the warm winter paradox.

For the Pliocene, high latitude, terrestrial, summer temperatures, models and different proxies are in good agreement. Those factors which cause uncertainty on winter temperatures are shown to be much less important for the summer. Until some of the uncertainties on winter, high latitude, Pliocene temperatures can be reduced, we suggest a data-model comparison should focus on the summer. This is expected to give more meaningful and accurate results than a data-model comparison which focuses on the annual mean.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: JCT, AMH and AMD acknowledge the FP7 Ideas programme: European Research Council (grant no. PLIO-ESS, 278636) and the Past Earth Network (EPSRC grant no. EP/M008.363/1). JCT was also supported through the Centre for Environmental Modelling and Computation (CEMAC), University of Leeds.
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
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Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2022 11:52
Last Modified: 23 May 2022 15:00

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