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Using paleo-climate comparisons to constrain future projections in CMIP5

Schmidt, G. A., Annan, J. D., Bartlein, P. J., Cook, B. I., Guilyardi, E., Hargreaves, J. C., Harrison, S., Kageyama, M., Le Grande, A. N., Konecky, B., Lovejoy, S., Mann, M. E., Masson-Delmotte, V., Risi, C., Thompson, D., Timmermann, A., Tremblay, L.-B. and Yiou, Y. (2013) Using paleo-climate comparisons to constrain future projections in CMIP5. Climate of the Past, 9 (1). pp. 775-835. ISSN 1814-9324

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To link to this article DOI: 10.5194/cpd-9-775-2013


We present a description of the theoretical framework and "best practice" for using the paleo-climate model component of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (Phase 5) (CMIP5) to constrain future projections of climate using the same models. The constraints arise from measures of skill in hindcasting paleo-climate changes from the present over 3 periods: the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) (21 thousand years before present, ka), the mid-Holocene (MH) (6 ka) and the Last Millennium (LM) (850–1850 CE). The skill measures may be used to validate robust patterns of climate change across scenarios or to distinguish between models that have differing outcomes in future scenarios. We find that the multi-model ensemble of paleo-simulations is adequate for addressing at least some of these issues. For example, selected benchmarks for the LGM and MH are correlated to the rank of future projections of precipitation/temperature or sea ice extent to indicate that models that produce the best agreement with paleoclimate information give demonstrably different future results than the rest of the models. We also find that some comparisons, for instance associated with model variability, are strongly dependent on uncertain forcing timeseries, or show time dependent behaviour, making direct inferences for the future problematic. Overall, we demonstrate that there is a strong potential for the paleo-climate simulations to help inform the future projections and urge all the modeling groups to complete this subset of the CMIP5 runs.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Walker Institute
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Past Climate Change
ID Code:32226
Publisher:Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union

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