How to Sustain Warm Northern High Latitudes during the Late Pliocene? Roles of CO2, Orbital Changes and Increased Mediterranean Salinity on Oceanic Circulation

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Camille Contoux1, Zhongshi Zhang1, Camille Li2, Kerim Hestnes Nisancioglu1,3 and Bjørg Risebrobakken1, (1)Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Uni Research Climate, Bergen, Norway, (2)Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway, (3)Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
Northern high latitudes are thought to have been especially warm during the late Pliocene (e.g. Dowsett et al., 2013). However, the mechanisms sustaining these warm high latitude conditions are debated, especially because warm high latitudes are not necessarily depending on a stronger AMOC (Zhang et al., 2013). On the global scale, several authors reported CO2 level variability during the Pliocene ranging from 280 ppm to 450 ppm (e.g. Badger et al., 2013), which could be linked with orbital variability. More regionally, an aridification of the Mediterranean region is thought to have increased the Mediterranean outflow during the same period (e.g. Khélifi et al., 2009). These different forcings must have impacted on salinity and temperature profiles in the North Atlantic/Arctic oceans, which are then recorded at the local scale in the proxies derived from sediment cores. In order to carefully interpret these proxies, it is necessary to understand the large scale dynamics of the region during that period and its potential maximum variability with CO2 and orbital changes as well as Mediterranean outflow increase. Using the NorESM-L coupled atmosphere ocean model, which has a refined oceanic grid in the Nordic Seas region, we investigate the roles of extreme CO2and orbital variability on the Atlantic and Arctic oceanic circulation. An additional test to higher salinity in the Mediterranean is carried out. This study is part of a larger project which aims at characterising the state of the Nordic Seas during the Pliocene, and includes multi-proxy reconstructions and sensitivity model studies.


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Dowsett et al., 2013. Sea surface temperature of the mid-Piacenzian ocean: a data-model comparison, Nature Scientific Reports, 3, 2013, doi:10.1038/srep02013.

Khélifi et al., 2009. A major and long term intensification of the Mediterranean outflow water, 3.5 – 3.3 Ma ago, Geology, 2009,37;811-814, doi: 10.1130/G30058A.1

Zhang, Z.-S. et al., 2013. Mid-pliocene Atlantic meridional overturning circulation not unlike modern, Clim. Past, 9, 1495--1504, doi:10.5194/cp-9-1495-2013.