, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 163-182

Mid-Holocene climate in Europe: what can we infer from PMIP model-data comparisons?

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Abstract

 Within the framework of the PMIP (Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project), we have compared mid-Holocene climate simulations from 16 atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) with new pollen-based reconstructions of the European bioclimatic variables for winter and growing season temperatures as well as annual water budget changes. In winter, some models are able to simulate the reconstructed northeastern warming, due to an increased heat transport from the ocean, associated with a larger north-south pressure gradient over the northern Atlantic. Whereas most models are only able to simulate a strong summer warming, data indicate a shorter and/ or colder growing season in southern Europe and a longer and/or warmer growing season in northwestern Europe. The reconstructed change in annual water budget indicates drier conditions in northwestern Europe and wetter conditions in southern Europe. Some models simulate such moisture changes, due to more summer evaporation over Scandinavia during summer, and more autumn-winter-spring precipitation over southern Europe. To address the PMIP approximation of no change in ocean and land boundary conditions, we have performed short sensitivity experiments to surface boundary conditions (sea-surface-temperatures, vegetation) using one single model. The model-data disagreements over Europe are probably due to the local influence of the surrounding oceans which are not taken into account in the first PMIP simulations. We therefore stress the need for more mid-Holocene SST reconstructions and further analysis of pollen data in the Mediterranean region.

Received: 23 February 1998 /Accepted: 19 September 1998