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The last glacial cycle: transient simulations with an AOGCM

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Smith, R. and Gregory, J. (2012) The last glacial cycle: transient simulations with an AOGCM. Climate Dynamics, 38 (7-8). pp. 1545-1559. ISSN 0930-7575

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Abstract/Summary

A number of transient climate runs simulating the last 120kyr have been carried out using FAMOUS, a fast atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (AOGCM). This is the first time such experiments have been done with a full AOGCM, providing a three-dimensional simulation of both atmosphere and ocean over this period. Our simulation thus includes internally generated temporal variability over periods from days to millennia, and physical, detailed representations of important processes such as clouds and precipitation. Although the model is fast, computational restrictions mean that the rate of change of the forcings has been increased by a factor of 10, making each experiment 12kyr long. Atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), northern hemisphere ice sheets and variations in solar radiation arising from changes in the Earth's orbit are treated as forcing factors, and are applied either separately or combined in different experiments. The long-term temperature changes on Antarctica match well with reconstructions derived from ice-core data, as does variability on timescales longer than 10 kyr. Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) cooling on Greenland is reasonably well simulated, although our simulations, which lack ice-sheet meltwater forcing, do not reproduce the abrupt, millennial scale climate shifts seen in northern hemisphere climate proxies or their slower southern hemisphere counterparts. The spatial pattern of sea surface cooling at the LGM matches proxy reconstructions reasonably well. There is significant anti-correlated variability in the strengths of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) on timescales greater than 10kyr in our experiments. We find that GHG forcing weakens the AMOC and strengthens the ACC, whilst the presence of northern hemisphere ice-sheets strengthens the AMOC and weakens the ACC. The structure of the AMOC at the LGM is found to be sensitive to the details of the ice-sheet reconstruction used. The precessional component of the orbital forcing induces ~20kyr oscillations in the AMOC and ACC, whose amplitude is mediated by changes in the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit. These forcing influences combine, to first order, in a linear fashion to produce the mean climate and ocean variability seen in the run with all forcings.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:26028
Publisher:Springer

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