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  1. Abstract

    Paleoclimate reconstructions are now integral to climate assessments, yet the consequences of using different methodologies and proxy data require rigorous benchmarking. Pseudoproxy experiments (PPEs) provide a tractable and transparent test bed for evaluating climate reconstruction methods and their sensitivity to aspects of real-world proxy networks. Here we develop a dataset that leverages proxy system models (PSMs) for this purpose, which emulates the essential physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes that translate climate signals into proxy records, making these synthetic proxies more relevant to the real world. We apply a suite of PSMs to emulate the widely-used PAGES 2k dataset, including realistic spatiotemporal sampling and error structure. A hierarchical approach allows us to produce many variants of this base dataset, isolating the impact of sampling bias in time and space, representation error, sampling error, and other assumptions. Combining these various experiments produces a rich dataset (“pseudoPAGES2k”) for many applications. As an illustration, we show how to conduct a PPE with this dataset based on emerging climate field reconstruction techniques.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    The Pacific Walker circulation (PWC) has an outsized influence on weather and climate worldwide. Yet the PWC response to external forcings is unclear1,2, with empirical data and model simulations often disagreeing on the magnitude and sign of these responses3. Most climate models predict that the PWC will ultimately weaken in response to global warming4. However, the PWC strengthened from 1992 to 2011, suggesting a significant role for anthropogenic and/or volcanic aerosol forcing5, or internal variability. Here we use a new annually resolved, multi-method, palaeoproxy-derived PWC reconstruction ensemble (1200–2000) to show that the 1992–2011 PWC strengthening is anomalous but not unprecedented in the context of the past 800 years. The 1992–2011 PWC strengthening was unlikely to have been a consequence of volcanic forcing and may therefore have resulted from anthropogenic aerosol forcing or natural variability. We find no significant industrial-era (1850–2000) PWC trend, contrasting the PWC weakening simulated by most climate models3. However, an industrial-era shift to lower-frequency variability suggests a subtle anthropogenic influence. The reconstruction also suggests that volcanic eruptions trigger El Niño-like PWC weakening, similar to the response simulated by climate models.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 5, 2024
  3. Abstract

    The hydrologic cycle is a fundamental component of the climate system with critical societal and ecological relevance. Yet gaps persist in our understanding of water fluxes and their response to increased greenhouse gas forcing. The stable isotope ratios of oxygen and hydrogen in water provide a unique opportunity to evaluate hydrological processes and investigate their role in the variability of the climate system and its sensitivity to change. Water isotopes also form the basis of many paleoclimate proxies in a variety of archives, including ice cores, lake and marine sediments, corals, and speleothems. These records hold most of the available information about past hydrologic variability prior to instrumental observations. Water isotopes thus provide a ‘common currency’ that links paleoclimate archives to modern observations, allowing us to evaluate hydrologic processes and their effects on climate variability on a wide range of time and length scales. Building on previous literature summarizing advancements in water isotopic measurements and modeling and describe water isotopic applications for understanding hydrological processes, this topical review reflects on new insights about climate variability from isotopic studies. We highlight new work and opportunities to enhance our understanding and predictive skill and offer a set of recommendations to advance observational and model-based tools for climate research. Finally, we highlight opportunities to better constrain climate sensitivity and identify anthropogenically-driven hydrologic changes within the inherently noisy background of natural climate variability.

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  4. Abstract

    The latitudinal position of the subtropical jet over the Himalayas (Himalayan jet latitude or HJL) controls the region's climate during winter and spring by guiding moisture‐delivering storms. Here we use the Community Earth System Model‐Last Millennium Ensemble to diagnose forced trends in HJL during the past millennium. During 850–1849, there is a weak equatorward trend in winter HJL. In contrast, the spring HJL has a relatively larger poleward trend, and increases in both variance and frequency of poleward/equatorward excursions. We demonstrate changes in orbital precession reduced the thermal gradient between tropical and subtropical Asia, shifting the spring HJL poleward. During 1850–2005, the spring HJL exhibits no trend due to compensating influences from orbital and anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcings. These findings suggest it is essential climate models properly simulate the effects of and potential interactions between orbital forcing and anthropogenic factors to accurately project Himalayan jet variability and associated storm tracks.

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  5. Abstract

    Stable oxygen isotopic ratios in corals (δ18Ocoral) are commonly utilized to reconstruct climate variability beyond the limit of instrumental observations. These measurements provide constraints on past seawater temperature, due to the thermodynamics of isotopic fractionation, but also past salinity, as both salinity and seawater δ18O (δ18Osw) are similarly affected by precipitation/evaporation, advection, and other processes. We use historical observations, isotope‐enabled model simulations, and the PAGES Iso2k database to assess the potential of δ18Ocoralto provide information on past salinity. Using ‘‘pseudocorals’’ to represent δ18Ocoralas a function of observed or simulated temperature and salinity/δ18Osw, we find that δ18Oswcontributes up to 89% of δ18Ocoralvariability in the Western Pacific Warm Pool. Although uncertainty in the δ18Osw‐salinity relationship influences the inferred salinity variability, corals from these sites could provide valuable δ18Oswreconstructions. Coordinated in situ monitoring of salinity and δ18Oswis vital for improving estimates of hydroclimatic change.

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  6. Abstract

    Coral oxygen isotopes (δ18O) from the central equatorial Pacific provide monthly resolved records of El Niño‐Southern Oscillation activity over past centuries to millennia. However, calibration studies usingin situdata to assess the relative contributions of warming and freshening to coral δ18O records are exceedingly rare. Furthermore, the fidelity of coral δ18O records under the most severe thermal stress events is difficult to assess. Here, we present six coral δ18O records andin situtemperature, salinity, and seawater δ18O data from Kiritimati Island (2°N, 157°W) spanning the very strong 2015/16 El Niño event. Local sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies of +2.4 ± 0.4°C and seawater δ18O anomalies of −0.19 ± 0.02‰ contribute to the observed coral δ18O anomalies of −0.58 ± 0.05‰, consistent with a ∼70% contribution from SST and ∼30% from seawater δ18O. Our results demonstrate that Kiritimati coral δ18O records can provide reliable reconstructions even during the largest class of El Niño events.

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  7. Abstract

    Natural and social systems worldwide are impacted by climate modes such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), making it imperative to understand their sensitivity to climate change. Paleoclimate studies extend the observational climate baseline, and speleothem records (δ18Ospel) are a common data source. However, relationships between δ18Ospeland climate modes are uncertain; climate models provide a way to test the strength and stability of these relationships. Here, we use the isotope‐enabled Community Earth System Model's Last Millennium Ensemble combined with a forward proxy model to delineate the global expression of modal variability in “pseudo‐stalagmite” (δ18Ospel) records worldwide. The modeled δ18Ospelspatially correlates with modal signatures. However, substantial changes in modal variance only modestly affect individual δ18Ospelvariance. A network of δ18Ospelrecords, particularly one that straddles the Pacific, significantly improves the reconstructability of ENSO variance.

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  8. Abstract

    Teleconnection rainfall over North America may be systematically altered by tropical Pacific mean state changes. Characterizing teleconnection changes to improve prediction requires many realizations of ENSO events, but twentieth century data are temporally limited. To extend twentieth century records, we evaluate ENSO events in a new last‐millennium paleoclimate data assimilation reconstruction to deduce how mean state changes affect the magnitude/extent of ENSO‐driven rainfall in the United States. Despite global cooling during the Little Ice Age, the central‐eastern tropical Pacific warms relative to the Medieval Climate Anomaly, shifting teleconnections eastward and increasing rainfall anomalies in the southwestern United States. Teleconnections strengthen independently of ENSO amplitude; we thus suggest caution in using paleoclimate reconstructions of teleconnection rainfall as a proxy for ENSO amplitude. We demonstrate teleconnection rainfall is sensitive to the pattern of tropical Pacific mean SST changes, underscoring the importance of reducing uncertainties in future warming patterns in the tropical Pacific.

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  9. Abstract

    Monsoon responses to eruptions over the last millennium (LM) are examined in an ensemble of climate simulations as a function of eruption hemisphere. A composite analysis reveals a particularly strong sensitivity of monsoon rainfall in the year following Northern Hemisphere (NH) extratropical eruptions. Additional analysis focusing on the 18th century eruption of Mt. Laki and idealized simulations representing an analogue Southern Hemisphere eruption (SH‐Laki) reveal monsoon responses that are approximately symmetric across hemispheres, despite exhibiting asymmetries in other aspects of the climate response. We conclude that 1) latitudinally mirrored eruptions result in approximately symmetric monsoon responses, 2) disproportionate weakening (strengthening) of NH (SH) monsoons by NH eruptions over the LM resulted in part from their relatively high latitudes, and 3) uncertainty in eruption latitude fundamentally limits our ability to accurately simulate associated monsoon and tropical precipitation responses in nature.

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  10. Abstract

    Explosive volcanic eruptions are one of the largest natural climate perturbations, but few observational constraints exist on either the climate responses to eruptions or the properties (size, hemispheric aerosol distribution, etc.) of the eruptions themselves. Paleoclimate records are thus important sources of information on past eruptions, often through the measurement of oxygen isotopic ratios (δ18O) in natural archives. However, since many processes affectδ18O, the dynamical interpretation of these records can be quite complex. Here we present results from new, isotope‐enabled members of the Community Earth System Model Last Millennium Ensemble, documenting eruption‐inducedδ18O variations throughout the climate system. Eruptions create significant perturbations in theδ18O of precipitation and soil moisture in central/eastern North America, via excitation of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Monsoon Asia and Australia also exhibit strong precipitation and soilδ18O anomalies; in these cases,δ18O may reflect changes to El Niño‐Southern Oscillation phase following eruptions. Salinity and seawaterδ18O patterns demonstrate the importance of both local hydrologic shifts and the phasing of the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation response, both along the equator and in the subtropics. In all cases, the responses are highly sensitive to eruption latitude, which points to the utility of isotopic records in constraining aerosol distribution patterns associated with past eruptions. This is most effective using precipitationδ18O; all Southern eruptions and the majority (66%) of Northern eruptions can be correctly identified. This work thus serves as a starting point for new, quantitative uses of isotopic records for understanding volcanic impacts on climate.

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