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  1. Abstract

    Ocean‐atmosphere dynamics in the north Pacific play an important role in the global climate system and influence hydroclimate in western North America. However, changes to this region's mean climate under increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are not well understood. Here we present new alkenone‐based records of sea surface temperature (SST) from the northeast Pacific from the mid‐Piacenzian warm period (approximately 3.3–3.0 Ma), an interval considered to be an analog for near‐future climate under middle‐of‐the‐road anthropogenic emissions. We compare these and other alkenone‐based SST records from the north Pacific to fully‐coupled climate model simulations to examine the impact of mid‐Pliocene CO2and other boundary conditions on regional climate dynamics and to explore factors governing model disagreement about regional temperature patterns. Model performance varies regionally, with Community Earth System Model 1.2 (CESM 1.2) and CESM2 performing best in regions with greater warming like the California Margin, though these models underestimate the warming evidenced in our new proxy record and others from the region. Single forcing simulations reveal a strong influence for prescribed land surface changes and higher CO2levels on coastal warming patterns along the California Margin in CESM2. Furthermore, differences in shortwave and longwave radiation and circulation between the models, likely related to changes in the atmospheric component of the model, may play a key role in the ability of models to capture regionally‐varying patterns of Pliocene warmth. Regional patterns of temperature change inferred from geochemical records could therefore help to understand the impacts of different model parameterization schemes on regional climate patterns.

     
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  2. The cross-equatorial southwesterly winds from the eastern equatorial Pacific direct moisture toward the Pacific coast of northwestern South America, where subsequent orographic lifting creates the wettest regions in the world. The Choco low-level jet is emblematic of broader westerly winds in this region and is projected to weaken by the end of the 21st century, but climate models show considerable disagreement about the extent of weakening. Using contemporary observations, we demonstrate that the configuration of westerly winds in the eastern equatorial Pacific is reflected by hydrogen isotopes in precipitation (δDp) in western Ecuador. As westerly winds strengthen, δDp increases from greater transport of δDvapor enriched in deuterium from the Eastern Pacific Warm Pool. We apply this framework to a new record of reconstructed δDp using leaf waxes in ocean sediments off the coast of Ecuador (ODP1239, 0◦40.32′ S, 82◦4.86′ W) that span the Plio-Pleistocene. Low δDp in the early Pliocene indicates weak westerly water vapor transport in a warmer climate state, which is attributed to a low sea surface temperature gradient between the cold tongue and off-equatorial regions in the eastern equatorial Pacific. Near 3 Ma, westerly water vapor transport weakens, possibly as a result of shifts in the Intertropical Convergence Zone forced by high latitude Northern Hemisphere cooling. In complementary isotope-enabled climate simulations, a weak Choco jet and westerly water vapor transport in the early Pliocene are matched by a decrease in δDp and hydroclimate changes in western Ecuador. Precipitation from the Choco jet can cause deadly landslides and weakened westerly winds in the early Pliocene implies a southward shift of these hazards along the Pacific coast of northwestern South America in the future. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2025
  3. The response of the terrestrial biosphere to warming remains one of the most poorly understood and quantified aspects of the climate system. One way to test the behavior of the Earth system in warm climate states is to examine the geological record. The abundance, distribution, and/or isotopic composition of source-specific organic molecules (biomarkers) have been used to reconstruct terrestrial paleoenvironmental change over a range of geological timescales. Here, we review new or recently improved biomarker approaches for reconstructing ( a) physical climate variables (land temperature, rainfall), ( b) ecosystem state variables (vegetation, fire regime), and ( c) biogeochemical variables (soil residence time, methane cycling). This review encompasses a range of key compound classes (e.g., lipids, lignin, and carbohydrates). In each section, we explore the concept behind key biomarker approaches and discuss their successes as paleoenvironmental indicators. We emphasize that analyzing several biomarkers in tandem can provide unique insights into the Earth system. ▪ Biomarkers can be used to reconstruct terrestrial environmental change over a range of geological timescales. ▪ Analyzing several biomarkers in tandem can provide unique insights into the Earth system. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume 50 is May 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates. 
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