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Title: Past terrestrial hydroclimate sensitivity controlled by Earth system feedbacks
Abstract Despite tectonic conditions and atmospheric CO 2 levels ( pCO 2 ) similar to those of present-day, geological reconstructions from the mid-Pliocene (3.3-3.0 Ma) document high lake levels in the Sahel and mesic conditions in subtropical Eurasia, suggesting drastic reorganizations of subtropical terrestrial hydroclimate during this interval. Here, using a compilation of proxy data and multi-model paleoclimate simulations, we show that the mid-Pliocene hydroclimate state is not driven by direct CO 2 radiative forcing but by a loss of northern high-latitude ice sheets and continental greening. These ice sheet and vegetation changes are long-term Earth system feedbacks to elevated pCO 2 . Further, the moist conditions in the Sahel and subtropical Eurasia during the mid-Pliocene are a product of enhanced tropospheric humidity and a stationary wave response to the surface warming pattern, which varies strongly with land cover changes. These findings highlight the potential for amplified terrestrial hydroclimate responses over long timescales to a sustained CO 2 forcing.  more » « less
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Nature Communications
Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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