Modeling the mid-piacenzian warm climate using the water isotope-enabled Community Earth System Model (iCESM1.2-ITPCAS)

Christian.Stepanek [ at ]


The mid-Piacenzian Warm Period (MPWP, ~ 3.264–3.025 Ma) is the most recent example of a persistently warmer climate in equilibrium with atmospheric CO<jats:sub>2</jats:sub> concentrations similar to today. Towards studying patterns and dynamics of a warming climate the MPWP is often compared to today. Following the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 2 (PlioMIP2) protocol we prepare a water isotope-enabled Community Earth System Model (iCESM1.2) simulation that is warmer and wetter than the PlioMIP2 multi-model ensemble (MME). While our simulation resembles PlioMIP2 MME in many aspects we find added insights. (1) Considerable warmth at high latitudes exceeds previous simulations. Polar amplification (PA) is comparable to proxies, enabled by iCESM1.2’s high climate sensitivity and a distinct method of ocean initialization. (2) Major driver of warmth is the downward component of clear-sky surface long-wave radiation. (3) In iCESM1.2 modulated dominance of dynamic (δDY) processes causes different low-latitude (~ 30 S°–10°N) precipitation response than the PlioMIP2 MME, where thermodynamic processes (δTH) dominate. (4) Modulated local condensation leads to lower δ18O across tropical Indian Ocean and surrounding Asian-African-Australian monsoon regions. (5) We find contrasting changes in tropical atmospheric circulations (Hadley and Walker cells). Anomalous regional meridional (zonal) circulation, forced by changes in tropical-subtropical (tropical) diabatic processes, presents a more comprehensive perspective than explaining weakened and expanded Hadley circulation (strengthened and westward-shifted Walker circulation) via static stability. (6) Enhanced Atlantic meridional overturning circulation owes to a closed Bering Strait.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Research Networks
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1007/s00382-024-07304-0

Cite as
Sun, Y. , Ding, L. , Su, B. , Dowsett, H. , Wu, H. , Hu, J. , Stepanek, C. , Xiong, Z. , Yuan, X. and Ramstein, G. (2024): Modeling the mid-piacenzian warm climate using the water isotope-enabled Community Earth System Model (iCESM1.2-ITPCAS) , Climate Dynamics . doi: 10.1007/s00382-024-07304-0

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