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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Clim. Past, 9, 699-717, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
14 Mar 2013
A multi-model assessment of last interglacial temperatures
D. J. Lunt1, A. Abe-Ouchi2, P. Bakker3, A. Berger4, P. Braconnot5, S. Charbit5, N. Fischer6, N. Herold4, J. H. Jungclaus6, V. C. Khon7, U. Krebs-Kanzow7, P. M. Langebroek8, G. Lohmann9, K. H. Nisancioglu10, B. L. Otto-Bliesner11, W. Park12, M. Pfeiffer9, S. J. Phipps13, M. Prange14, R. Rachmayani14, H. Renssen3, N. Rosenbloom11, B. Schneider7, E. J. Stone1, K. Takahashi15, W. Wei9, Q. Yin4, and Z. S. Zhang8 1School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
3Department of Earth Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain, Belgium
5Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, unité mixte CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, France
6Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany
7Department of Geology, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany
8UNI Research and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
9Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany
10University of Bergen and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
11National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, USA
12GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel, Kiel, Germany
13ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
14MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
15JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan
Abstract. The last interglaciation (~130 to 116 ka) is a time period with a strong astronomically induced seasonal forcing of insolation compared to the present. Proxy records indicate a significantly different climate to that of the modern, in particular Arctic summer warming and higher eustatic sea level. Because the forcings are relatively well constrained, it provides an opportunity to test numerical models which are used for future climate prediction. In this paper we compile a set of climate model simulations of the early last interglaciation (130 to 125 ka), encompassing a range of model complexities. We compare the simulations to each other and to a recently published compilation of last interglacial temperature estimates. We show that the annual mean response of the models is rather small, with no clear signal in many regions. However, the seasonal response is more robust, and there is significant agreement amongst models as to the regions of warming vs cooling. However, the quantitative agreement of the model simulations with data is poor, with the models in general underestimating the magnitude of response seen in the proxies. Taking possible seasonal biases in the proxies into account improves the agreement, but only marginally. However, a lack of uncertainty estimates in the data does not allow us to draw firm conclusions. Instead, this paper points to several ways in which both modelling and data could be improved, to allow a more robust model–data comparison.

Citation: Lunt, D. J., Abe-Ouchi, A., Bakker, P., Berger, A., Braconnot, P., Charbit, S., Fischer, N., Herold, N., Jungclaus, J. H., Khon, V. C., Krebs-Kanzow, U., Langebroek, P. M., Lohmann, G., Nisancioglu, K. H., Otto-Bliesner, B. L., Park, W., Pfeiffer, M., Phipps, S. J., Prange, M., Rachmayani, R., Renssen, H., Rosenbloom, N., Schneider, B., Stone, E. J., Takahashi, K., Wei, W., Yin, Q., and Zhang, Z. S.: A multi-model assessment of last interglacial temperatures, Clim. Past, 9, 699-717, doi:10.5194/cp-9-699-2013, 2013.
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