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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 7, issue 2 | Copyright
Clim. Past, 7, 591-602, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 09 Jun 2011

Research article | 09 Jun 2011

Deciphering the spatio-temporal complexity of climate change of the last deglaciation: a model analysis

D. M. Roche1,2, H. Renssen2, D. Paillard1, and G. Levavasseur1 D. M. Roche et al.
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE), UMR8212, CEA/INSU-CNRS/UVSQ – Centre d'Etudes de Saclay CEA-Orme des Merisiers, bat. 701 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
  • 2Section Climate Change and Landscape Dynamics, Department of Earth Sciences Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract. Understanding the sequence of events occuring during the last major glacial to interglacial transition (21 ka BP to 9 ka BP) is a challenging task that has the potential to unveil the mechanisms behind large scale climate changes. Though many studies have focused on the understanding of the complex sequence of rapid climatic change that accompanied or interrupted the deglaciation, few have analysed it in a more theoretical framework with simple forcings. In the following, we address when and where the first significant temperature anomalies appeared when using slow varying forcing of the last deglaciation. We used here coupled transient simulations of the last deglaciation, including ocean, atmosphere and vegetation components to analyse the spatial timing of the deglaciation. To keep the analysis in a simple framework, we did not include freshwater forcings that potentially cause rapid climate shifts during that time period. We aimed to disentangle the direct and subsequent response of the climate system to slow forcing and moreover, the location where those changes are more clearly expressed. In a data – modelling comparison perspective, this could help understand the physically plausible phasing between known forcings and recorded climatic changes. Our analysis of climate variability could also help to distinguish deglacial warming signals from internal climate variability. We thus are able to better pinpoint the onset of local deglaciation, as defined by the first significant local warming and further show that there is a large regional variability associated with it, even with the set of slow forcings used here. In our model, the first significant hemispheric warming occurred simultaneously in the North and in the South and is a direct response to the obliquity forcing.

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