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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 10, issue 4 | Copyright
Clim. Past, 10, 1633-1644, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-10-1633-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 29 Aug 2014

Research article | 29 Aug 2014

Last interglacial model–data mismatch of thermal maximum temperatures partially explained

P. Bakker1,2 and H. Renssen1 P. Bakker and H. Renssen
  • 1Earth and Climate Cluster, Department of Earth Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, 1081HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 2now at: College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Abstract. The timing of the last interglacial (LIG) thermal maximum across the globe remains to be precisely assessed. Because of difficulties in establishing a common temporal framework between records from different palaeoclimatic archives retrieved from various places around the globe, it has not yet been possible to reconstruct spatio-temporal variations in the occurrence of the maximum warmth across the globe. Instead, snapshot reconstructions of warmest LIG conditions have been presented, which have an underlying assumption that maximum warmth occurred synchronously everywhere. Although known to be an oversimplification, the impact of this assumption on temperature estimates has yet to be assessed. We use the LIG temperature evolutions simulated by nine different climate models to investigate whether the assumption of synchronicity results in a sizeable overestimation of the LIG thermal maximum. We find that for annual temperatures, the overestimation is small, strongly model-dependent (global mean 0.4 ± 0.3 °C) and cannot explain the recently published 0.67 °C difference between simulated and reconstructed annual mean temperatures during the LIG thermal maximum. However, if one takes into consideration that temperature proxies are possibly biased towards summer, the overestimation of the LIG thermal maximum based on warmest month temperatures is non-negligible with a global mean of 1.1 ± 0.4 °C.

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