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  1. Abstract

    The Miocene (23.03–5.33 Ma) is recognized as a period with close to modern‐day paleogeography, yet a much warmer climate. With large uncertainties in future hydroclimate projections, Miocene conditions illustrate a potential future analog for the Earth system. A recent opportunistic Miocene Model Intercomparison Project 1 (MioMIP1) focused on synthesizing published Miocene climate simulations and comparing them with available temperature reconstructions. Here, we build on this effort by analyzing the hydrological cycle response to Miocene forcings across early‐to‐middle (E2MMIO; 20.03–11.6 Ma) and middle‐to‐late Miocene (M2LMIO; 11.5–5.33 Ma) simulations with CO2concentrations ranging from 200 to 850 ppm and providing a model‐data comparison against available precipitation reconstructions. We find global precipitation increases by ∼2.1 and 2.3% per degree of warming for E2MMIO and M2LMIO simulations, respectively. Models generally agree on a wetter than modern‐day tropics; mid and high‐latitude, however, do not agree on the sign of subtropical precipitation changes with warming. Global monsoon analysis suggests most monsoon regions, except the North American Monsoon, experience higher precipitation rates under warmer conditions. Model‐data comparison shows that mean annual precipitation is underestimated by the models regardless of CO2concentration, particularly in the mid‐ to high‐latitudes. This suggests that the models may not be (a) resolving key processes driving the hydrological cycle response to Miocene boundary conditions and/or (b) other boundary conditions or processes not considered here are critical to reproducing Miocene hydroclimate. This study highlights the challenges in modeling and reconstructing the Miocene hydrological cycle and serves as a baseline for future coordinated MioMIP efforts.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) play a critical role in global biogeochemical cycling and act as barriers to dispersal for marine organisms. OMZs are currently expanding and intensifying with climate change, however past distributions of OMZs are relatively unknown. Here we present evidence for widespread pelagic OMZs during the Pliocene (5.3-2.6 Ma), the most recent epoch with atmospheric CO2analogous to modern (~400-450 ppm). The global distribution of OMZ-affiliated planktic foraminifer,Globorotaloides hexagonus, and Earth System and Species Distribution Models show that the Indian Ocean, Eastern Equatorial Pacific, eastern South Pacific, and eastern North Atlantic all supported OMZs in the Pliocene, as today. By contrast, low-oxygen waters were reduced in the North Pacific and expanded in the North Atlantic in the Pliocene. This spatially explicit perspective reveals that a warmer world can support both regionally expanded and contracted OMZs, with intermediate water circulation as a key driver.

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  3. Abstract

    The Eocene‐Oligocene transition (EOT) marks the shift from greenhouse to icehouse conditions at 34 Ma, when a permanent ice sheet developed on Antarctica. Climate modeling studies have recently assessed the drivers of the transition globally. Here we revisit those experiments for a detailed study of the southern high latitudes in comparison to the growing number of mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) and mean air temperature (MAT) proxy reconstructions, allowing us to assess proxy‐model temperature agreement and refine estimates for the magnitude of thepCO2forcing of the EOT. We compile and update published proxy temperature records on and around Antarctica for the late Eocene (38–34 Ma) and early Oligocene (34–30 Ma). Compiled SST proxies cool by up to 3°C and MAT by up to 4°C between the timeslices. Proxy data were compared to previous climate model simulations representing pre‐ and post‐EOT, typically forced with a halving ofpCO2. We scaled the model outputs to identify the magnitude ofpCO2change needed to drive a commensurate change in temperature to best fit the temperature proxies. The multi‐model ensemble needs a 30 or 33% decrease inpCO2, to best fit MAT or SST proxies respectively. These proxy‐model intercomparisons identify decliningpCO2as the primary forcing of EOT cooling, with a magnitude (200 or 243 ppmv) approaching that of thepCO2proxies (150 ppmv). However individual model estimates span a decrease of 66–375 ppmv, thus proxy‐model uncertainties are dominated by model divergence.

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  4. Abstract

    The Pliocene offers insights into future climate, with near‐modern atmospheric pCO2and global mean surface temperature estimated to be 3–4°C above pre‐industrial. However, the hydrological response differs between future global warming and early Pliocene climate model simulations. This discrepancy results from the use of reduced meridional and zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradients, based on foraminiferal Mg/Ca and Alkenone proxy evidence, to force the early Pliocene simulation. Subsequent, SST reconstructions based on the organic proxy TEX86, have found warmer temperatures in the warm pool, bringing the magnitude of the gradient reductions into dispute. We design an independent test of Pliocene SST scenarios and their hydrological cycle “fingerprints.” We use an isotope‐enabled General Circulation Model, iCAM5, to model the distribution of water isotopes in precipitation in response to four climatological SST and sea‐ice fields representing modern, abrupt 4 × CO2, late Pliocene and early Pliocene climates. We conduct a proxy‐model comparison with all the available precipitation isotope proxy data, and we identify target regions that carry precipitation isotopic fingerprints of SST gradients as priorities for additional proxy reconstructions. We identify two regions with distinct precipitation isotope (D/H) fingerprints resulting from reduced SST gradients: the Maritime Continent (D‐enriched due to reduced convective rainfall) and the Sahel (wetter, more deep convection, D‐depleted). The proxy‐model comparison using available plant wax reconstructions, mostly from Africa, is promising but inconclusive. Additional proxy reconstructions are needed in both target regions and in much of the world for significant tests of SST scenarios and dynamical linkages to the hydrological cycle.

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  5. Abstract

    Earth's hydrological cycle is expected to intensify in response to global warming, with a “wet‐gets‐wetter, dry‐gets‐drier” response anticipated over the ocean. Subtropical regions (∼15°–30°N/S) are predicted to become drier, yet proxy evidence from past warm climates suggests these regions may be characterized by wetter conditions. Here we use an integrated data‐modeling approach to reconstruct global and zonal‐mean rainfall patterns during the early Eocene (∼56–48 million years ago). The Deep‐Time Model Intercomparison Project (DeepMIP) model ensemble indicates that the mid‐ (30°–60°N/S) and high‐latitudes (>60°N/S) are characterized by a thermodynamically dominated hydrological response to warming and overall wetter conditions. The tropical band (0°–15°N/S) is also characterized by wetter conditions, with several DeepMIP models simulating narrowing of the Inter‐Tropical Convergence Zone. However, the latter is not evident from the proxy data. The subtropics are characterized by negative precipitation‐evaporation anomalies (i.e., drier conditions) in the DeepMIP models, but there is surprisingly large inter‐model variability in mean annual precipitation (MAP). Intriguingly, we find that models with weaker meridional temperature gradients (e.g., CESM, GFDL) are characterized by a reduction in subtropical moisture divergence, leading to an increase in MAP. These model simulations agree more closely with our new proxy‐derived precipitation reconstructions and other key climate metrics and imply that the early Eocene was characterized by reduced subtropical moisture divergence. If the meridional temperature gradient was even weaker than suggested by those DeepMIP models, circulation‐induced changes may have outcompeted thermodynamic changes, leading to wetter subtropics. This highlights the importance of accurately reconstructing zonal temperature gradients when reconstructing past rainfall patterns.

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  6. Abstract

    In contrast to the modern‐day climate, North Pacific deep water formation and a Pacific meridional overturning circulation (PMOC) may have been active during past climate conditions, in particular during the Pliocene epoch (some 3–5 million years ago). Here, we use a climate model simulation with a robust PMOC cell to investigate the pathways of the North Pacific deep water from subduction to upwelling, as revealed by Lagrangian particle trajectories. We find that similar to the present‐day Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), most subducted North Pacific deep water upwells in the Southern Ocean. However, roughly 15% upwells in the tropical Indo‐Pacific Oceans instead—a key feature distinguishing the PMOC from the AMOC. The connection to the Indian Ocean is relatively fast, at about 250 years. The connection to the tropical Pacific is slower (∼800 years) as water first travels to the subtropical South Pacific then gradually upwells through the thermocline.

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  7. Abstract

    The Miocene epoch, spanning 23.03–5.33 Ma, was a dynamic climate of sustained, polar amplified warmth. Miocene atmospheric CO2concentrations are typically reconstructed between 300 and 600 ppm and were potentially higher during the Miocene Climatic Optimum (16.75–14.5 Ma). With surface temperature reconstructions pointing to substantial midlatitude and polar warmth, it is unclear what processes maintained the much weaker‐than‐modern equator‐to‐pole temperature difference. Here, we synthesize several Miocene climate modeling efforts together with available terrestrial and ocean surface temperature reconstructions. We evaluate the range of model‐data agreement, highlight robust mechanisms operating across Miocene modeling efforts and regions where differences across experiments result in a large spread in warming responses. Prescribed CO2is the primary factor controlling global warming across the ensemble. On average, elements other than CO2, such as Miocene paleogeography and ice sheets, raise global mean temperature by ∼2°C, with the spread in warming under a given CO2concentration (due to a combination of the spread in imposed boundary conditions and climate feedback strengths) equivalent to ∼1.2 times a CO2doubling. This study uses an ensemble of opportunity: models, boundary conditions, and reference data sets represent the state‐of‐art for the Miocene, but are inhomogeneous and not ideal for a formal intermodel comparison effort. Acknowledging this caveat, this study is nevertheless the first Miocene multi‐model, multi‐proxy comparison attempted so far. This study serves to take stock of the current progress toward simulating Miocene warmth while isolating remaining challenges that may be well served by community‐led efforts to coordinate modeling and data activities within a common analytical framework.

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  8. Abstract CO 2 -forced surface warming in general circulation models (GCMs) is initially polar amplified in the Arctic but not in the Antarctic—a largely hemispherically antisymmetric signal. Nevertheless, we show in CESM1 and 11 LongRunMIP GCMs that the hemispherically symmetric component of global-mean-normalized, zonal-mean warming ( ) under 4 × CO 2 changes weakly or becomes modestly more polar amplified from the first decade to near-equilibrium. Conversely, the antisymmetric warming component ( ) weakens with time in all models, modestly in some including FAMOUS, but effectively vanishing in others including CESM1. We explore mechanisms underlying the robust behavior with a diffusive moist energy balance model (MEBM), which given radiative feedback parameter ( λ ) and ocean heat uptake ( ) fields diagnosed from CESM1 adequately reproduces the CESM1 and fields. In further MEBM simulations perturbing λ and , is sensitive to their symmetric components only, and more to that of λ . A three-box, two-time-scale model fitted to FAMOUS and CESM1 reveals a curiously short Antarctic fast-response time scale in FAMOUS. In additional CESM1 simulations spanning a broader range of forcings, changes modestly across 2–16 × CO 2 , and in a Pliocene-like simulation is more polar amplified but likewise approximately time invariant. Determining the real-world relevance of these behaviors—which imply that a surprising amount of information about near-equilibrium polar amplification emerges within decades—merits further study. 
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