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Markus Jochum, Alexandra Jahn, Synte Peacock, David A. Bailey, John T. Fasullo, Jennifer Kay, Samuel Levis, and Bette Otto-Bliesner

Abstract

The equilibrium solution of a fully coupled general circulation model with present-day orbital forcing is compared to the solution of the same model with the orbital forcing from 115 000 years ago. The difference in snow accumulation between these two simulations has a pattern and a magnitude comparable to the ones inferred from reconstructions for the last glacial inception. This is a major improvement over previous similar studies, and the increased realism is attributed to the higher spatial resolution in the atmospheric model, which allows for a more accurate representation of the orography of northern Canada and Siberia. The analysis of the atmospheric heat budget reveals that, as postulated by Milankovitch’s hypothesis, the only necessary positive feedback is the snow–albedo feedback, which is initiated by reduced melting of snow and sea ice in the summer. However, this positive feedback is almost fully compensated by an increased meridional heat transport in the atmosphere and a reduced concentration of low Arctic clouds. In contrast to similar previous studies, the ocean heat transport remains largely unchanged. This stability of the northern North Atlantic circulation is explained by the regulating effect of the freshwater import through the Nares Strait and Northwest Passage and the spiciness import by the North Atlantic Current.

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