, Volume 56, Issue 28-29, pp 3028-3041,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 24 Sep 2011

A comparison of the Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age and 20th century warming simulated by the FGOALS climate system model


To compare differences among the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), Little Ice Age (LIA), and 20th century global warming (20CW), six sets of transient and equilibrium simulations were generated using the climate system model FGOALS_gl. This model was developed by the State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The results indicate that MWP warming is evident on a global scale, except for at mid-latitudes of the North Pacific. However, the magnitude of the warming is weaker than that in the 20th century. The warming in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere is stronger than that in the Southern Hemisphere. The LIA cooling is also evident on a global scale, with a strong cooling over the high Eurasian continent, while the cooling center is over the Arctic domain. Both the MWP and the 20CW experiments exhibit the strongest warming anomalies in the middle troposphere around 200–300 hPa, but the cooling center of the LIA experiment is seen in the polar surface of the Northern Hemisphere. A comparison of model simulation against the reconstruction indicates that model’s performance in simulating the surface air temperature changes during the warm periods is better than that during the cold periods. The consistencies between model and reconstruction in lower latitudes are better than those in high latitudes. Comparison of the inter-annual variability mode of East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) rainfall during the MWP, LIA and 20CW reveals a similar rainfall anomalies pattern. However, the time spectra of the principal component during the three typical periods of the last millennium are different, and the quasi-biannual oscillation is more evident during the two warm periods. At a centennial time scale, the external mode of the EASM variability driven by the changes of effective solar radiation is determined by the changes of large scale land-sea thermal contrast. The rainfall anomalies over the east of 110°E exhibit a meridional homogeneous change pattern, which is different from the meridional out-of-phase change of rainfall anomalies associated with the internal mode.