Geologische Rundschau

, Volume 85, Issue 3, pp 513–524 | Cite as

Investigating the sensitivity of the Atmospheric General Circulation Model ECHAM 3 to paleoclimatic boundary conditions

  • S. Lorenz
  • B. Grieger
  • Ph. Helbig
  • K. Herterich
Original Paper


We present atmospheric simulations of three different time slices of the late Quaternary using the ECHAM 3 general circulation model in T42 resolution. In this work we describe the results of model runs for the time slices 6000 years BP (last climate optimum), 21 000 BP (last glacial maximum) and 115 000 years BP (glacial inception). Although the solar insolation is known for all time slices, a complete data set of the other boundary conditions which are necessary for running the atmospheric model exists only for the last glacial maximum in the form of the CLIMAP reconstruction. For the other two time slices, which are interglacial states like the modern climate, sea surface temperatures, land albedo and ice sheet topography are kept at modern values and only the solar insolation is changed appropriately. The response of the model to solar insolation changes is quite reasonable. The modelled anomalies are small and roughly opposite in sign for 6000 BP and 115 000 BP, respectively. In the case of last glacial maximum, the glacial ice sheet topography and ice albedo produce a much larger climate anomaly in the model. However, to enable a real test of model performance under glacial boundary conditions, the CLIMAP sea surface temperatures, which are now known to be partly inaccurate, should be replaced by an updated “state-of-the-art” reconstruction.

Key words

Atmospheric response General circulation models Glacial maximum Milankovitch Theory Paleoclimate Climate optimum Glacial inception 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson DM, Webb RS (1994) Ice-age tropics revisited. Nature 367; 23–24Google Scholar
  2. Barnola JM, Raymond D, Korotkevich YS, Lorius C (1987) Vostock ice core provides 160 000-year record of atmospheric CO2. Nature 329:408–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berger AL (1977) Long-term variations of the earth’s orbital elements. Celestial Mechanics 15:53–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berger AL (1978) Long-term variations of daily insolation and Quaternary climatic changes. J Atmos Sci 35:2362–2367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. CLIMAP Project Members (1976) The surface of the ice age Earth. Science 191:1131–1137Google Scholar
  6. CLIMAP Project Members (1981) Seasonal reconstructions of the Earth surface at the last glacial maximum. GSA Map and Chart Ser MC-36, Geol Soc Am: Boulder, ColoradoGoogle Scholar
  7. Crowley TJ (1988) Paleoclimate modelling. In: Schlesinger ME (ed) Physically based modelling and simulation of climate and climatic change, part II. Kluwer Academic, Boston, pp 883–949Google Scholar
  8. Crowley TJ, North GR (1990) Paleoclimatology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. DKRZ Modellbetreuungsgruppe (1994) The ECHAM 3 atmospheric general circulation model. Technical Report 6, Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum, HamburgGoogle Scholar
  10. Frenzel B, Pécsi M, Velichko AA (eds) (1992) Atlas of paleoclimates and paleoenvironments of the northern hemisphere. Geographical Research Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  11. Gates WL (1976) The numerical simulation of ice-age climate with a global general circulation model. J Atmos Sci 33:1844–1873CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Geleyn JF, Preuss HJ (1983) A new data set of satellite-derived surface albedo values for operational use at the ECMWF. Archs Met Geophys Bioclim Ser A 32:353–359Google Scholar
  13. Guilderson TP, Fairbanks RG, Rubenstone JL (1994) Tropical temperature variations since 20 000 years ago: modulating interhemispheric climate change. Science 263Google Scholar
  14. Kukla G, Robinson D (1980) Annual cycle of surface albedo. Mon Weath Rev 108:56–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kutzbach JE, Guetter PJ (1986) The influence of changing orbital parameters and surface boundary conditions on climate simulations for the past 18 000 years. J Atmos Sci 43:1726–1759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Laskar J (1988) Secular evolution of the solar system over 10 million years. Astron Astrophys 198:341–362Google Scholar
  17. Laskar J (1989) A numerical experiment on the chaotic behaviour of the solar system. Nature 338:237–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lautenschlager M, Herterich K (1990) Atmospheric response to ice age conditions: climatology near the earth’s surface. J Geophys Res 95 (22): 547–557Google Scholar
  19. Manabe S, Broccoli AJ (1985) A comparison of climate model sensitivity with data from the last glacial maximum. J. Atmos Sci 42:2643–2651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Matthews E (1983) Global vegetation and land use: new high-resolution data bases for climate studies. J Climate Appl Met 22:474–487Google Scholar
  21. Miller MJ, Beljaars A, Palmer TN (1992) The sensitivity of the ECMWF model to the parameterization of evaporation from the tropical oceans. J Climate 5:418–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Prell WL, Kutzbach JE (1987) Monsoon variability over the past 15 000 years. J Geophys Res 92:8411–8425Google Scholar
  23. Rind D, Peteet D (1985) Terrestrial conditions at the last glacial maximum and climap sea-surface temperature estimates: Are they consistent? Quarternary Res 24:1–22Google Scholar
  24. Robock A (1980) The seasonal cycle of snow cover, sea-ice and surface albedo. Mon Weath Rev 108:267–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Roeckner E, Arpe K, Bengtsson L, Brinkop S, Dümenil L, Esch M, Kirk E, Lunkeit F, Ponater M, Rockel B, Sausen R, Schlese U, Schubert S, Windelband M (1992) Simulation of the present-day climate with the ECHAM model: impact of model physics and resolution. Report 93, Max-Planck-Institut für MeteorologieGoogle Scholar
  26. Tushingham HM, Peltier WR (1991) A global model of late Pleistocene deglaciation based upon geophysical predictions of post-glacial relative sea level change. J Geophys Res 96:4497–4523Google Scholar
  27. Wilson MF, Henderson-Sellers A (1985) A global archive of land cover and soil data sets for the use in general circulation climate models. J Climate 5:119–143Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Lorenz
    • 1
  • B. Grieger
    • 1
  • Ph. Helbig
    • 1
  • K. Herterich
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität BremenBremenGermany

Personalised recommendations