Separating the Effects of Northern Hemisphere Ice-Sheets, CO2 Concentrations and Orbital Parameters on Global Precipitation During the Late Pleistocene Glacial Cycles

Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 16:15
2012 (Moscone West)
Oliver Elison Timm, State University of New York, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Albany, NY, United States, Tobias Friedrich, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, United States, Axel Timmermann, IPRC, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, United States and Andrey Ganopolski, 4Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
Global-scale changes in the hydrological cycle have been reconstructed in many parts of the world using various archives of proxy information. The signals found in proxies allow us to study the complex response of the global hydrological cycle to the combined forcing and feedback mechanisms. However, it remains a challenge to attribute the observed variations to specific causes, in particular, it is difficult to distinguish CO2 and ice-sheet response in time series. Here, we present new results from a set of transient paleoclimate simulation of the last eight glacial cycles (784,000 years) using accelerated forcing.

In order to isolate the ice-sheet forcing from the CO2 -driven response and orbital forcing, we made use of additional transient experiments with varying forcing combinations covering the last 408,000 years: (a) keeping CO2 concentrations constant, (b) keeping the ice-sheet fixed, (c) orbital forcing only. The simulations show that orbital forcing has strongest impact in the tropical and subtropical regions. The northern hemisphere ice-sheets stamp a characteristic spatial footprint on the global precipitation variability. The ice-sheets mainly affect the extratropical northern hemisphere, but the cone of influence extends further into the North African monsoon regions, and to a weaker extent into the Asian monsoon.

In an attempt to validate our model-specific results we compared our results with existing hydrological paleo proxy records. Despite the growing number of proxy archives, the aim to identify the ice-sheet influence in spatially limited networks of proxy time series remains as challenge. More records that cover at least two full glacial cycles could significantly increase the signal separation. In conclusion, our results suggest that the northern hemisphere ice-sheets played an important role in modulating the global hydrological cycle.