, Volume 15, Issue 11, pp 857-874

Tropical paleoclimates at the Last Glacial Maximum: comparison of Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project (PMIP) simulations and paleodata

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Abstract

 Seventeen simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) climate have been performed using atmospheric general circulation models (AGCM) in the framework of the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project (PMIP). These simulations use the boundary conditions for CO2, insolation and ice-sheets; surface temperatures (SSTs) are either (a) prescribed using CLIMAP data set (eight models) or (b) computed by coupling the AGCM with a slab ocean (nine models). The present-day (PD) tropical climate is correctly depicted by all the models, except the coarser resolution models, and the simulated geographical distribution of annual mean temperature is in good agreement with climatology. Tropical cooling at the LGM is less than at middle and high latitudes, but greatly exceeds the PD temperature variability. The LGM simulations with prescribed SSTs underestimate the observed temperature changes except over equatorial Africa where the models produce a temperature decrease consistent with the data. Our results confirm previous analyses showing that CLIMAP (1981) SSTs only produce a weak terrestrial cooling. When SSTs are computed, the models depict a cooling over the Pacific and Indian oceans in contrast with CLIMAP and most models produce cooler temperatures over land. Moreover four of the nine simulations, produce a cooling in good agreement with terrestrial data. Two of these model results over ocean are consistent with new SST reconstructions whereas two models simulate a homogeneous cooling. Finally, the LGM aridity inferred for most of the tropics from the data, is globally reproduced by the models with a strong underestimation for models using computed SSTs.

Received: 9 September 1998 / Accepted: 18 March 1999