, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 493-513
Date: 25 Apr 2006

On the interpretation of low-latitude hydrological proxy records based on Maunder Minimum AOGCM simulations

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An increasing number of proxy records, which are related to changes in the hydrological cycle, have been collected for climate reconstructions of the last millennium. There has been, however, little attempt to test climate models with such proxy records or to interpret proxy records using climate model simulations. In the present study, we analyze the hydrological changes between three different types of experiments: a present-day control, a perpetual AD 1640, and an ensemble of six transient Maunder Minimum (AD 1640–1715) simulations. Atmospheric moisture transport is investigated in terms of contributions of specific humidity and circulation changes. The study points out the importance of the specific humidity contribution to changes in moisture transport reflected in hydrological proxy records. The moisture budget of the western tropical Pacific is also investigated to aid the interpretation of a proxy record in this specific region. The present-day freshening of the western tropical Pacific, compared to the Maunder Minimum, is explained by the increased zonal moisture transport via trade winds, mainly due to the increased amount of atmospheric water vapor content in the warming world. Due to the existence of several uncertainty factors, such as forcing reconstructions, the link between the model simulations and proxy records is, however, not definitive, but the thermal contribution to hydrological proxy records is important and not limited to the Maunder Minimum period.