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  1. 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. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Abrupt climate changes during the last deglaciation have been well preserved in proxy records across the globe. However, one long-standing puzzle is the apparent absence of the onset of the Heinrich Stadial 1 (HS1) cold event around 18 ka in Greenland ice core oxygen isotope δ 18 O records, inconsistent with other proxies. Here, combining proxy records with an isotope-enabled transient deglacial simulation, we propose that a substantial HS1 cooling onset did indeed occur over the Arctic in winter. However, this cooling signal in the depleted oxygen isotopic composition is completely compensated by the enrichment because of the loss of winter precipitation in response to sea ice expansion associated with AMOC slowdown during extreme glacial climate. In contrast, the Arctic summer warmed during HS1 and YD because of increased insolation and greenhouse gases, consistent with snowline reconstructions. Our work suggests that Greenland δ 18 O may substantially underestimate temperature variability during cold glacial conditions. 
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  5. Abstract

    Heinrich Stadial 1 (HS1) was the major climate event at the onset of the last deglaciation associated with rapid cooling in Greenland and lagged, slow warming in Antarctica. Although it is widely believed that temperature signals were triggered in the Northern Hemisphere and propagated southward associated with the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), understanding how these signals were able to cross the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) barrier and further warm up Antarctica has proven particularly challenging. In this study, we explore the physical processes that lead to the Antarctic warming during HS1 in a transient isotope-enabled deglacial simulation iTRACE, in which the interpolar phasing has been faithfully reproduced. We show that the increased meridional heat transport alone, first through the ocean and then through the atmosphere, can explain the Antarctic warming during the early stage of HS1 without notable changes in the strength and position of the Southern Hemisphere midlatitude westerlies. In particular, when a reduction of the AMOC causes ocean warming to the north of the ACC, increased southward ocean heat transport by mesoscale eddies is triggered by steeper isopycnals to warm up the ocean beyond the ACC, which further decreases the sea ice concentration and leads to more absorption of insolation. The increased atmospheric heat then releases to the Antarctic primarily by a strengthening zonal wavenumber-3 (ZW3) pattern. Sensitivity experiments further suggest that a ∼4°C warming caused by this mechanism superimposed on a comparable warming driven by the background atmospheric CO2rise is able to explain the total simulated ∼8°C warming in the West Antarctica during HS1.

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  6. Abstract

    The Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2) simulates a high equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS > 5°C) and a Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) that is substantially colder than proxy temperatures. In this study, we examine the role of cloud parameterizations in simulating the LGM cooling in CESM2. Through substituting different versions of cloud schemes in the atmosphere model, we attribute the excessive LGM cooling to the new CESM2 schemes of cloud microphysics and ice nucleation. Further exploration suggests that removing an inappropriate limiter on cloud ice number (NoNimax) and decreasing the time‐step size (substepping) in cloud microphysics largely eliminate the excessive LGM cooling. NoNimax produces a more physically consistent treatment of mixed‐phase clouds, which leads to an increase in cloud ice content and a weaker shortwave cloud feedback over mid‐to‐high latitudes and the Southern Hemisphere subtropics. Microphysical substepping further weakens the shortwave cloud feedback. Based on NoNimax and microphysical substepping, we have developed a paleoclimate‐calibrated CESM2 (PaleoCalibr), which simulates well the observed twentieth century warming and spatial characteristics of key cloud and climate variables. PaleoCalibr has a lower ECS (∼4°C) and a 20% weaker aerosol‐cloud interaction than CESM2. PaleoCalibr represents a physically more consistent treatment of cloud microphysics than CESM2 and is a valuable tool in climate change studies, especially when a large climate forcing is involved. Our study highlights the unique value of paleoclimate constraints in informing the cloud parameterizations and ultimately the future climate projection.

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  7. Abstract

    The upper end of the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) has increased substantially in the latest Coupled Model Intercomparison Projects phase 6 with eight models (as of this writing) reporting an ECS > 5°C. The Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2) is one such high‐ECS model. Here we perform paleoclimate simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) using CESM2 to examine whether its high ECS is realistic. We find that the simulated LGM global mean temperature decrease exceeds 11°C, greater than both the cooling estimated from proxies and simulated by an earlier model version (CESM1). The large LGM cooling in CESM2 is attributed to a strong shortwave cloud feedback in the newest atmosphere model. Our results indicate that the high ECS of CESM2 is incompatible with LGM constraints and that the projected future warming in CESM2, and models with a similarly high ECS, is thus likely too large.

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  8. Abstract

    During the Last Interglacial, approximately 129 to 116 ka (thousand years ago), the Arctic summer climate was warmer than the present, and the Greenland Ice Sheet retreated to a smaller extent than its current state. Previous model‐derived and geological reconstruction estimates of the sea‐level contribution of the Greenland Ice Sheet during the Last Interglacial vary widely. Here, we conduct a transient climate simulation from 127 to 119 ka using the Community Earth System Model (CESM2), which includes a dynamic ice sheet component (the Community Ice Sheet Model, CISM2) that is interactively coupled to the atmosphere, land, ocean, and sea ice components. Vegetation distribution is updated every 500 years based on biomes simulated using a monthly climatology to force the BIOME4 equilibrium vegetation model. Results show a substantial retreat of the Greenland Ice Sheet, reaching a minimum extent at 121.9 ka, equivalent to a 3.0 m rise in sea level relative to the present day, followed by gradual regrowth. In contrast, a companion simulation employing static vegetation based on pre‐industrial conditions shows a much smaller ice‐sheet retreat, highlighting the importance of the changes in high‐latitude vegetation distribution for amplifying the ice‐sheet response.

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