Sea surface temperature of the mid-Piacenzian ocean: a data-model comparison.
ABSTRACT: The mid-Piacenzian climate represents the most geologically recent interval of long-term average warmth relative to the last million years, and shares similarities with the climate projected for the end of the 21(st) century. As such, it represents a natural experiment from which we can gain insight into potential climate change impacts, enabling more informed policy decisions for mitigation and adaptation. Here, we present the first systematic comparison of Pliocene sea surface temperature (SST) between an ensemble of eight climate model simulations produced as part of PlioMIP (Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project) with the PRISM (Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping) Project mean annual SST field. Our results highlight key regional and dynamic situations where there is discord between the palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and the climate model simulations. These differences have led to improved strategies for both experimental design and temporal refinement of the palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.
Project description:The mid-Pliocene warm period provides a natural laboratory to investigate the long-term response of the Earth's ice-sheets and sea level in a warmer-than-present-day world. Proxy data suggest that during the warm Pliocene, portions of the Antarctic ice-sheets, including West Antarctica could have been lost. Ice-sheet modelling forced by Pliocene climate model outputs is an essential way to improve our understanding of ice-sheets during the Pliocene. However, uncertainty exists regarding the degree to which results are model-dependent. Using climatological forcing from an international climate modelling intercomparison project, we demonstrate the high dependency of Antarctic ice-sheet volume predictions on the climate model-based forcing used. In addition, the collapse of the vulnerable marine basins of Antarctica is dependent on the ice-sheet model used. These results demonstrate that great caution is required in order to avoid making unsound statements about the nature of the Pliocene Antarctic ice-sheet based on model results that do not account for structural uncertainty in both the climate and ice sheet models.
Project description:The extent and behaviour of glaciers during the mid-Piacenzian warm period illustrate the sensitivity of the cryosphere to atmospheric CO2 concentrations above pre-industrial levels. Knowledge of glaciation during this period is restricted to globally or regionally averaged records from marine sediments and to sparse terrestrial glacial deposits in mid-to-high latitudes. Here we expand the Pliocene glacial record to the tropics by reporting recurrent large-scale glaciation in the Bolivian Andes based on stratigraphic and paleomagnetic analysis of a 95-m sequence of glacial sediments underlying the 2.74-Ma Chijini Tuff. Paleosols and polarity reversals separate eight glacial diamictons, which we link to cold periods in the benthic oxygen isotope record. The glaciations appear to coincide with the earliest glacial activity at high northern latitudes and with events in Antarctica, including the strong M2 cold peak and terminal Pliocene climate deterioration. This concordance suggests inter-hemispheric climate linkages during the late Pliocene and requires that the Central Andes were at least as high in the late Pliocene as today. Our record fills a critical gap in knowledge of Earth systems during the globally warm mid-Piacenzian and suggests a possible driver of faunal migration preceding the large-scale biotic interchange in the Americas during the earliest Pleistocene.
Project description:Extreme El Niño events severely disrupt the global climate, causing pronounced socio-economic losses. A prevailing view is that extreme El Niño events, defined by total precipitation or convection in the Niño3 area, will increase 2-fold in the future. However, this projected change was drawn without removing the potential impacts of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) models' common biases. Here, we find that the models' systematic biases in simulating tropical climate change over the past century can reduce the reliability of the projected change in the Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) and its related extreme El Niño frequency. The projected Pacific SST change, after removing the impacts of 13 common biases, displays a 'La Niña-like' rather than 'El Niño-like' change. Consequently, the extreme El Niño frequency, which is highly linked to the zonal distribution of the Pacific SST change, would remain mostly unchanged under CMIP5 warming scenarios. This finding increases confidence in coping with climate risks associated with global warming.
Project description:As the world warms due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations, the Earth system moves toward climate states without societal precedent, challenging adaptation. Past Earth system states offer possible model systems for the warming world of the coming decades. These include the climate states of the Early Eocene (ca. 50 Ma), the Mid-Pliocene (3.3-3.0 Ma), the Last Interglacial (129-116 ka), the Mid-Holocene (6 ka), preindustrial (ca. 1850 CE), and the 20th century. Here, we quantitatively assess the similarity of future projected climate states to these six geohistorical benchmarks using simulations from the Hadley Centre Coupled Model Version 3 (HadCM3), the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Model E2-R (GISS), and the Community Climate System Model, Versions 3 and 4 (CCSM) Earth system models. Under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) emission scenario, by 2030 CE, future climates most closely resemble Mid-Pliocene climates, and by 2150 CE, they most closely resemble Eocene climates. Under RCP4.5, climate stabilizes at Pliocene-like conditions by 2040 CE. Pliocene-like and Eocene-like climates emerge first in continental interiors and then expand outward. Geologically novel climates are uncommon in RCP4.5 (<1%) but reach 8.7% of the globe under RCP8.5, characterized by high temperatures and precipitation. Hence, RCP4.5 is roughly equivalent to stabilizing at Pliocene-like climates, while unmitigated emission trajectories, such as RCP8.5, are similar to reversing millions of years of long-term cooling on the scale of a few human generations. Both the emergence of geologically novel climates and the rapid reversion to Eocene-like climates may be outside the range of evolutionary adaptive capacity.
Project description:The Arctic cryosphere is changing and making a significant contribution to sea level rise. The Late Pliocene had similar CO2 levels to the present and a warming comparable to model predictions for the end of this century. However, the state of the Arctic cryosphere during the Pliocene remains poorly constrained. For the first time we combine outputs from a climate model with a thermodynamic iceberg model to simulate likely source regions for ice-rafted debris (IRD) found in the Nordic Seas from Marine Isotope Stage M2 to the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period and what this implies about the nature of the Arctic cryosphere at this time. We compare the fraction of melt given by the model scenarios with IRD data from four Ocean Drilling Program sites in the Nordic Seas. Sites 911A, 909C, and 907A show a persistent occurrence of IRD that model results suggest is consistent with permanent ice on Svalbard. Our results indicate that icebergs sourced from the east coast of Greenland do not reach the Nordic Seas sites during the warm Late Pliocene but instead travel south into the North Atlantic. In conclusion, we suggest a continuous occurrence of marine-terminating glaciers on Svalbard and on East Greenland (due to the elevation of the East Greenland Mountains during the Late Pliocene). The study has highlighted the usefulness of coupled climate model-iceberg trajectory modeling for understanding ice sheet behavior when proximal geological records for Pliocene ice presence or absence are absent or are inconclusive.
Project description:The Radiative-Convective Equilibrium Model Intercomparison Project (RCEMIP) is an intercomparison of multiple types of numerical models configured in radiative-convective equilibrium (RCE). RCE is an idealization of the tropical atmosphere that has long been used to study basic questions in climate science. Here, we employ RCE to investigate the role that clouds and convective activity play in determining cloud feedbacks, climate sensitivity, the state of convective aggregation, and the equilibrium climate. RCEMIP is unique among intercomparisons in its inclusion of a wide range of model types, including atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs), single column models (SCMs), cloud-resolving models (CRMs), large eddy simulations (LES), and global cloud-resolving models (GCRMs). The first results are presented from the RCEMIP ensemble of more than 30 models. While there are large differences across the RCEMIP ensemble in the representation of mean profiles of temperature, humidity, and cloudiness, in a majority of models anvil clouds rise, warm, and decrease in area coverage in response to an increase in sea surface temperature (SST). Nearly all models exhibit self-aggregation in large domains and agree that self-aggregation acts to dry and warm the troposphere, reduce high cloudiness, and increase cooling to space. The degree of self-aggregation exhibits no clear tendency with warming. There is a wide range of climate sensitivities, but models with parameterized convection tend to have lower climate sensitivities than models with explicit convection. In models with parameterized convection, aggregated simulations have lower climate sensitivities than unaggregated simulations.
Project description:The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in the tropical eastern Indian Ocean exhibits strong interannual variability, often co-occurring with positive Indian Ocean Dipole (pIOD) events. During what we identify as an extreme ITCZ event, a drastic northward shift of atmospheric convection coincides with an anomalously strong north-minus-south sea surface temperature (SST) gradient over the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean. Such shifts lead to severe droughts over the maritime continent and surrounding islands but also devastating floods in southern parts of the Indian subcontinent. Understanding future changes of the ITCZ is therefore of major scientific and socioeconomic interest. Here we find a more-than-doubling in the frequency of extreme ITCZ events under greenhouse warming, estimated from climate models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 that are able to simulate such events. The increase is due to a mean state change with an enhanced north-minus-south SST gradient and a weakened Walker Circulation, facilitating smaller perturbations to shift the ITCZ northwards.
Project description:This article presents data derived by the USGS Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) Project. PRISM has generated planktic foraminifer census data from core sites and outcrops around the globe since 1988. These data form the basis of a number of paleoceanographic reconstructions focused on the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period (3.264 to 3.025 million years ago). Data are presented as counts of individuals within 64 taxonomic categories for each locality. We describe sample acquisition and processing, age dating, taxonomy and archival storage of material. These data provide a unique, stratigraphically focused opportunity to assess the effects of global warming on marine plankton.
Project description:Seaweed beds play a key role in providing essential habitats and energy to coastal areas, with enhancements in productivity and biodiversity and benefits to human societies. However, the spatial extent of seaweed beds around Japan has decreased due to coastal reclamation, water quality changes, rising water temperatures, and heavy grazing by herbivores. Using monthly mean sea surface temperature (SST) data from 1960 to 2099 and SST-based indices, we quantitatively evaluated the effects of warming seawater on the spatial extent of suitable versus unsuitable habitats for temperate seaweed Ecklonia cava, which is predominantly found in southern Japanese waters. SST data were generated using the most recent multiple climate projection models and emission scenarios (the Representative Concentration Pathways or RCPs) used in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5). In addition, grazing by Siganus fuscescens, an herbivorous fish, was evaluated under the four RCP simulations. Our results suggest that continued warming may drive a poleward shift in the distribution of E. cava, with large differences depending on the climate scenario. For the lowest emission scenario (RCP2.6), most existing E. cava populations would not be impacted by seawater warming directly but would be adversely affected by intensified year-round grazing. For the highest emission scenario (RCP8.5), previously suitable habitats throughout coastal Japan would become untenable for E. cava by the 2090s, due to both high-temperature stress and intensified grazing. Our projections highlight the importance of not only mitigating regional warming due to climate change, but also protecting E. cava from herbivores to conserve suitable habitats on the Japanese coast.
Project description:The Piacenzian stage of the Pliocene (2.6 to 3.6 Ma) is the most recent past interval of sustained global warmth with mean global temperatures markedly higher (by ~2-3 °C) than today. Quantifying CO<sub>2</sub> levels during the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period (mPWP) provides a means, therefore, to deepen our understanding of Earth System behaviour in a warm climate state. Here we present a new high-resolution record of atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> using the δ<sup>11</sup>B-pH proxy from 3.35 to 3.15 million years ago (Ma) at a temporal resolution of 1 sample per 3-6 thousand years (kyrs). Our study interval covers both the coolest marine isotope stage of the mPWP, M2 (~3.3 Ma) and the transition into its warmest phase including interglacial KM5c (centered on ~3.205 Ma) which has a similar orbital configuration to present. We find that CO<sub>2</sub> ranged from [Formula: see text]ppm to [Formula: see text]ppm, with CO<sub>2</sub> during the KM5c interglacial being [Formula: see text]ppm (at 95% confidence). Our findings corroborate the idea that changes in atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> levels played a distinct role in climate variability during the mPWP. They also facilitate ongoing data-model comparisons and suggest that, at present rates of human emissions, there will be more CO<sub>2</sub> in Earth's atmosphere by 2025 than at any time in at least the last 3.3 million years.