In order to account for coupled climate–soil processes, we have developed a soil scheme which is asynchronously coupled to a comprehensive climate model with dynamic vegetation. This scheme considers vegetation as the primary control of changes in physical soil characteristics. We test the scheme for a warmer (mid-Holocene) and colder (Last Glacial Maximum) climate relative to the preindustrial climate. We find that the computed changes in physical soil characteristics lead to significant amplification of global climate anomalies, representing a positive feedback. The inclusion of the soil feedback yields an extra surface warming of 0.24 °C for the mid-Holocene and an additional global cooling of 1.07 °C for the Last Glacial Maximum. Transition zones such as desert–savannah and taiga–tundra exhibit a pronounced response in the model version with dynamic soil properties. Energy balance model analyses reveal that our soil scheme amplifies the temperature anomalies in the mid-to-high northern latitudes via changes in the planetary albedo and the effective longwave emissivity. As a result of the modified soil treatment and the positive feedback to climate, part of the underestimated mid-Holocene temperature response to orbital forcing can be reconciled in the model.
AWI Organizations > Climate Sciences > Paleo-climate Dynamics