Challenges in quantifying Pliocene terrestrial warming revealed by data–model discord

Salzmann, Ulrich, Dolan, Aisling, Haywood, Alan, Chan, Wing-Le, Voss, Jochen, Hill, Daniel, Abe-Ouchi, Ayako, Otto-Bliesner, Bette, Bragg, Frances, Chandler, Mark, Contoux, Camille, Dowsett, Harry, Jost, Anne, Kamae, Youichi, Lohmann, Gerrit, Lunt, Daniel, Pickering, Steven, Pound, Matthew, Ramstein, Gilles, Rosenbloom, Nan, Sohl, Linda, Stepanek, Christian, Ueda, Hiroaki and Zhang, Zhongshi (2013) Challenges in quantifying Pliocene terrestrial warming revealed by data–model discord. Nature Climate Change, 3 (11). pp. 969-974. ISSN 1758-678X

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Comparing simulations of key warm periods in Earth history with contemporaneous geological proxy data is a useful approach for evaluating the ability of climate models to simulate warm, high-CO2 climates that are unprecedented in the more recent past. Here we use a global data set of confidence-assessed, proxy-based temperature estimates and biome reconstructions to assess the ability of eight models to simulate warm terrestrial climates of the Pliocene epoch. The Late Pliocene, 3.6–2.6 million years ago, is an accessible geological interval to understand climate processes of a warmer world. We show that model-predicted surface air temperatures reveal a substantial cold bias in the Northern Hemisphere. Particularly strong data–model mismatches in mean annual temperatures (up to 18 °C) exist in northern Russia. Our model sensitivity tests identify insufficient temporal constraints hampering the accurate configuration of model boundary conditions as an important factor impacting on data–model discrepancies. We conclude that to allow a more robust evaluation of the ability of present climate models to predict warm climates, future Pliocene data–model comparison studies should focus on orbitally defined time slices.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online first.
Subjects: F600 Geology
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Ulrich Salzmann
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2013 09:01
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2019 00:32

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