Can an Earth System Model simulate better climate change at mid-Holocene than an AOGCM? A comparison study of MIROC-ESM and MIROC3
The importance of evaluating models through paleoclimate simulations is becoming more recognized in efforts to improve climate projection. To evaluate an integrated Earth System Model, MIROC-ESM, we performed simulations in time-slice experiments for the mid-Holocene (6000 yr before present, 6 ka) and preindustrial (1850 AD, 0 ka) periods under the protocol of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5/Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project 3. We first give an overview of the simulated global climates by comparing with simulations using a previous version of the MIROC model (MIROC3), which is an atmosphere–ocean coupled general circulation model. We then comprehensively discuss various aspects of climate change with 6 ka forcing and how the differences in the models can affect the results. We also discuss the representation of the precipitation enhancement at 6 ka over northern Africa. The precipitation enhancement at 6 ka over northern Africa according to MIROC-ESM does not differ greatly from that obtained with MIROC3, which means that newly developed components such as dynamic vegetation and improvements in the atmospheric processes do not have significant impacts on the representation of the 6 ka monsoon change suggested by proxy records. Although there is no drastic difference between the African monsoon representations of the two models, there are small but significant differences in the precipitation enhancement over the Sahara in early summer, which can be related to the representation of the sea surface temperature rather than the vegetation coupling in MIROC-ESM. Because the oceanic parts of the two models are identical, the difference in the sea surface temperature change is ultimately attributed to the difference in the atmospheric and/or land modules, and possibly the difference in the representation of low-level clouds.