Unraveling the complexities of the Last Glacial Maximum climate: the role of individual boundary conditions and forcings

martin.werner [ at ] awi.de


In order to quantify the relative importance of individual boundary conditions and forcings, including greenhouse gases, ice sheets, and Earth’s orbital parameters, on determining Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) climate, we have performed a series of LGM experiments using a state-of-the-art climate model AWI-ESM, in which different combinations of boundary conditions and forcings have been applied following the protocol of Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project phase 4 (PMIP4). In good agreement with observational proxy records, a general colder and drier climate is simulated in our full-forced LGM experiment as compared to the present-day simulation. Our simulated results from non-full-forced sensitivity simulations reveal that both the greenhouse gases and ice sheets play a major role in defining the anomalous LGM surface temperature compared to today. Decreased greenhouse gases in LGM as compared to present day leads to a non-uniform global cooling with polar amplification effect. The presence of LGM ice sheets favors a warming over the Arctic and northern Atlantic oceans in boreal winter, as well as a cooling over regions with the presence of ice sheets. The former is induced by a strengthening in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) transporting more heat to high latitudes, whilst the latter is due to the increased surface albedo and elevation of ice sheets. We find that the Northern Hemisphere monsoon precipitation is influenced by the opposing effects of LGM greenhouse gases and ice sheets. Specifically, the presence of ice sheets leads to significant drying in the Northern Hemisphere monsoon regions, while a reduction in greenhouse gases results in increased monsoon rainfall. Based on our model results, continental ice sheets exert a major control on atmospheric dynamics and the variability of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Moreover, our analysis also implies a nonlinearity in climate response to LGM boundary conditions and forcings.

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DOI 10.5194/cp-19-2157-2023

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Shi, X. , Werner, M. , Yang, H. , D'Agostino, R. , Liu, J. , Yang, C. and Lohmann, G. (2023): Unraveling the complexities of the Last Glacial Maximum climate: the role of individual boundary conditions and forcings , Climate of the Past, 19 (11), pp. 2157-2175 . doi: 10.5194/cp-19-2157-2023

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