The UK contribution to CMIP6/PMIP4: mid-Holocene and Last Interglacial experiments with HadGEM3, and comparison to the pre-industrial era and proxy data

Palaeoclimate model simulations are an important tool to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of climate change. These simulations also provide tests of the ability of models to simulate climates very different to today. Here we present the results from two simulations using the latest version of the UK’s physical climate model, HadGEM3-GC3.1; the mid-Holocene (~ 6 ka) and Last Interglacial (~ 127 ka) simulations, both conducted under the auspices of CMIP6/PMIP4. These periods are of particular interest to PMIP4 because they represent the two most recent warm periods in Earth history, where atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and continental configuration is similar to the pre-industrial period but where there were significant changes to the Earth’s orbital configuration, resulting in a very different seasonal cycle of radiative forcing.Results for these simulations are assessed against proxy data, previous versions of the UK model, and models from the previous CMIP5 exercise. When the current version is compared to the previous generation of the UK model, the most recent version suggests limited improvement. In common with these previous model versions, the simulations reproduce global land and ocean temperatures (both surface and at 1.5 m) and a West African monsoon that is consistent with the latitudinal and seasonal distribution of insolation. The Last Interglacial simulation appears to accurately capture Northern Hemisphere temperature changes, but without the addition of Last Interglacial meltwater forcing cannot capture the magnitude of Southern Hemisphere changes. Model-data comparisons indicate that some geographical regions, and some seasons, produce better matches to the palaeodata (relative to pre-industrial) than others. Model-model comparisons, relative to previous generations same model and other models, indicate similarity between generations in terms of both the intensity and northward enhancement of the mid-Holocene West African monsoon, both of which are underestimated. On the "Saharan greening" which occurred the mid-Holocene African Humid Period, simulation results are likewise consistent with other models. The most recent version of the UK model appears to still be unable to reproduce the amount of rainfall necessary to support grassland across the Sahara.


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Published Online
Authors: Williams, Charles J.R., Guarino, Maria Vittoria ORCIDORCID record for Maria Vittoria Guarino, Capron, Emilie, Malmierca Vallet, Irene, Singarayer, Joy S., Sime, Louise C., Lunt, Daniel J., Valdes, Paul J.

On this site: Irene Malmierca Vallet, Maria Vittoria Guarino
24 January, 2020
Climate of the Past Discussions
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