Evaluation of Arctic warming in mid-Pliocene climate simulations

de Nooijer, Wesley; Zhang, Qiong; Li, Qiang; Zhang, Qiang; Li, Xiangyu; Zhang, Zhongshi; Guo, Chuncheng; Nisancioglu, Kerim H.; Haywood, Alan M.; Tindall, Julia C.; Hunter, Stephen J.; Dowsett, Harry J.; Stepanek, Christian; Lohmann, Gerrit; Otto-Bliesner, Bette L.; Feng, Ran; Sohl, Linda E.; Chandler, Mark A.; Tan, Ning; Contoux, Camille; Ramstein, Gilles; Baatsen, Michiel L. J.; von der Heydt, Anna S.; Chandan, Deepak; Peltier, W. Richard; Abe-Ouchi, Ayako; Chan, Wing-Le; Kamae, Youichi; Brierley, Chris M.

Palaeoclimate simulations improve our understanding of the climate, inform us about the performance of climate models in a different climate scenario, and help to identify robust features of the climate system. Here, we analyse Arctic warming in an ensemble of 16 simulations of the mid-Pliocene Warm Period (mPWP), derived from the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project Phase 2 (PlioMIP2).

The PlioMIP2 ensemble simulates Arctic (60–90inline-formula N) annual mean surface air temperature (SAT) increases of 3.7 to 11.6 inline-formulaC compared to the pre-industrial period, with a multi-model mean (MMM) increase of 7.2 inline-formulaC. The Arctic warming amplification ratio relative to global SAT anomalies in the ensemble ranges from 1.8 to 3.1 (MMM is 2.3). Sea ice extent anomalies range from inline-formula−3.0 to inline-formula M5inlinescrollmathml - normal 10.4 × normal 10 normal 6 59pt14ptsvg-formulamathimg54b7ed55f271963dee101ef6cd84cdcb cp-16-2325-2020-ie00001.svg59pt14ptcp-16-2325-2020-ie00001.png  kminline-formula2, with a MMM anomaly of inline-formula M7inlinescrollmathml - normal 5.6 × normal 10 normal 6 53pt14ptsvg-formulamathimg065f8a2f34bd16a1e40c7a0482fac525 cp-16-2325-2020-ie00002.svg53pt14ptcp-16-2325-2020-ie00002.png  kminline-formula2, which constitutes a decrease of 53 % compared to the pre-industrial period. The majority (11 out of 16) of models simulate summer sea-ice-free conditions (inline-formula M9inlinescrollmathml normal 1 × normal 10 normal 6 46pt14ptsvg-formulamathimgd2f804520c2f3e6251821c201929d424 cp-16-2325-2020-ie00003.svg46pt14ptcp-16-2325-2020-ie00003.png  kminline-formula2) in their mPWP simulation. The ensemble tends to underestimate SAT in the Arctic when compared to available reconstructions, although the degree of underestimation varies strongly between the simulations. The simulations with the highest Arctic SAT anomalies tend to match the proxy dataset in its current form better. The ensemble shows some agreement with reconstructions of sea ice, particularly with regard to seasonal sea ice. Large uncertainties limit the confidence that can be placed in the findings and the compatibility of the different proxy datasets. We show that while reducing uncertainties in the reconstructions could decrease the SAT data–model discord substantially, further improvements are likely to be found in enhanced boundary conditions or model physics. Lastly, we compare the Arctic warming in the mPWP to projections of future Arctic warming and find that the PlioMIP2 ensemble simulates greater Arctic amplification than CMIP5 future climate simulations and an increase instead of a decrease in Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) strength compared to pre-industrial period. The results highlight the importance of slow feedbacks in equilibrium climate simulations, and that caution must be taken when using simulations of the mPWP as an analogue for future climate change.

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de Nooijer, Wesley / Zhang, Qiong / Li, Qiang / et al: Evaluation of Arctic warming in mid-Pliocene climate simulations. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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