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Reexamination of the Late Pliocene Climate over China Using a 25-km Resolution General Circulation Model

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  • 1 Nansen-Zhu International Research Centre, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, and Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • | 2 State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
  • | 3 Department of Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental Studies, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China, and Uni Research Climate, Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
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Abstract

Simulations of past warm climate provide an opportunity to better understand how the climate system may respond to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Using the ~25-km-resolution Community Atmosphere Model, version 4 (CAM4), we examine climate change over China in the Late Pliocene warm period (3.264–3.025 Ma) and further explore the influences of different sea surface temperature (SST) forcings and model horizontal resolutions. Initial evaluation shows that the high-resolution CAM4 performs well in capturing the climatological distribution of present-day temperature, precipitation, and low-level monsoon circulations over China. Based on the standard Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (version 4; PRISM4) boundary conditions, CAM4 predicts an increase of annual mean temperature by ~0.5°C over China in the Late Pliocene relative to the preindustrial era, with the greatest warming in northwest China but cooling in southwest China. Enhanced annual mean precipitation is observed in the Late Pliocene over most of China except for northwest China where precipitation is decreased. The East Asian summer (winter) monsoon is intensified (weakened) in the Late Pliocene as suggested by geological evidence, which is attributed to the enhanced (reduced) land–sea thermal contrast. The East Asian monsoon domain exhibits a northwestward expansion in the Late Pliocene, especially over the Tibetan Plateau. Additionally, our results indicate that the modeled climate change is sensitive to the Late Pliocene SST forcings and model resolution. Particularly, different SST forcings [PRISM4-based vs Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP)-based SSTs] affect the modeled phase change of summer monsoon and the associated precipitation change, while model resolution (~25 vs 400 km) mainly impacts precipitation change.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0378.s1.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Qing Yan, yanqing@mail.iap.ac.cn

Abstract

Simulations of past warm climate provide an opportunity to better understand how the climate system may respond to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Using the ~25-km-resolution Community Atmosphere Model, version 4 (CAM4), we examine climate change over China in the Late Pliocene warm period (3.264–3.025 Ma) and further explore the influences of different sea surface temperature (SST) forcings and model horizontal resolutions. Initial evaluation shows that the high-resolution CAM4 performs well in capturing the climatological distribution of present-day temperature, precipitation, and low-level monsoon circulations over China. Based on the standard Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (version 4; PRISM4) boundary conditions, CAM4 predicts an increase of annual mean temperature by ~0.5°C over China in the Late Pliocene relative to the preindustrial era, with the greatest warming in northwest China but cooling in southwest China. Enhanced annual mean precipitation is observed in the Late Pliocene over most of China except for northwest China where precipitation is decreased. The East Asian summer (winter) monsoon is intensified (weakened) in the Late Pliocene as suggested by geological evidence, which is attributed to the enhanced (reduced) land–sea thermal contrast. The East Asian monsoon domain exhibits a northwestward expansion in the Late Pliocene, especially over the Tibetan Plateau. Additionally, our results indicate that the modeled climate change is sensitive to the Late Pliocene SST forcings and model resolution. Particularly, different SST forcings [PRISM4-based vs Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP)-based SSTs] affect the modeled phase change of summer monsoon and the associated precipitation change, while model resolution (~25 vs 400 km) mainly impacts precipitation change.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0378.s1.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Qing Yan, yanqing@mail.iap.ac.cn

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