Climate Dynamics

, Volume 20, Issue 7–8, pp 663–688 | Cite as

Mid-Holocene climates of the Americas: a dynamical response to changed seasonality

  • S. P. Harrison
  • J. E. Kutzbach
  • Z. Liu
  • P. J. Bartlein
  • B. Otto-Bliesner
  • D. Muhs
  • I. C. Prentice
  • R. S. Thompson
Article

Abstract.

Simulations of the climatic response to mid-Holocene (6 ka BP) orbital forcing with two coupled ocean–atmosphere models (FOAM and CSM) show enhancement of monsoonal precipitation in parts of the American Southwest, Central America and northernmost South America during Northern Hemisphere summer. The enhanced onshore flow that brings precipitation into Central America is caused by a northward displacement of the inter-tropical convergence zone, driven by cooling of the equatorial and warming of the northern subtropical and mid-latitude ocean. Ocean feedbacks also enhance precipitation over the American Southwest, although the increase in monsoon precipitation there is largely driven by increases in land-surface temperature. The northward shift in the equatorial precipitation band that causes enhanced precipitation in Central America and the American Southwest has a negative feedback effect on monsoonal precipitation in northern South America. The simulations demonstrate that mid-Holocene aridity in the mid-continent of North America is dynamically linked to the orbitally induced enhancement of the summer monsoon in the American Southwest, with a spatial structure (wet in the Southwest and dry in the mid-continent) similar to that found in strong monsoon years today. Changes in winter precipitation along the west coast of North America, in Central America and along the Gulf Coast, caused by southward-displacement of the westerly storm tracks, indicate that changes in the Northern Hemisphere winter monsoon also play a role in regional climate changes during the mid-Holocene. Although the simulations with FOAM and CSM differ in detail, the general mechanisms and patterns are common to both. The model results thus provide a coherent dynamical explanation for regional patterns of increased or decreased aridity shown by vegetation, lake status and aeolian data from the Americas.

References

  1. Adams DK, Comrie AC (1997) The North American monsoon. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 78: 2197–2213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bonan GB (1998) The land surface climatology of the NCAR Land Surface Model coupled to the NCAR Community Climate Model. J Clim 11: 1307–1326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boville BA, Gent PR (1998) The NCAR Climate System Model, Version 1. J Clim 11: 1115–1130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boville BA, Hurrell JW (1998) A comparison of the atmospheric circulations simulated by the CCM3 and CSM1. J Clim 11: 1327–1341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braconnot P, Joussaume S, Marti O, de Noblet N (1999) Synergistic feedbacks from ocean and vegetation on the African monsoon response to mid-Holocene insolation. Geophys Res Lett 26: 2481–2484Google Scholar
  6. Braconnot P, Marti O, Joussaume S, Leclainche Y (2000) Ocean feedback in response to 6 kyr BP insolation. J Clim 13: 1537–1553CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Broström A, Coe M, Harrison SP, Gallimore R, Kutzbach JE, Foley J, Prentice IC, Behling P (1998) Land surface feedbacks and palaeomonsoons in northern Africa. Geophys Res Lett 25: 3615–3618Google Scholar
  8. Bryson RA, Lowry WP (1955) Synoptic climatology of the Arizona summer precipitation singularity. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 36: 329–339Google Scholar
  9. Bush ABG (1999) Assessing the impact of mid-Holocene insolation on the atmosphere–ocean system. Geophys Res Lett 26: 99–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheddadi R, Yu G, Guiot J, Harrison SP, Prentice IC (1997) The climate of Europe 6000 years ago. Clim Dyn 13: 1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dean WE, Ahlbrandt TS, Anderson RY, Bradbury JP (1996) Regional aridity in North America during the middle Holocene. The Holocene 6: 145–155Google Scholar
  12. Doherty R, Kutzbach JE, Foley J, Pollard D (2000) Fully-coupled climate/dynamical vegetation model simulations over northern Africa during the mid-Holocene. Clim Dyn 16: 561–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Douglas MW, Maddox RA, Howard K, Reyes S (1993) The Mexican monsoon. J Clim 6: 1665–1677CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Edwards ME, Anderson PM, Brubaker LB, Ager TA, Andreev AA, Bigelow NH, Cwynar LC, Eisner WR, Harrison SP, Hu FS, Jolly D, Lozhkin AV, McDonald GM, Mock CJ, Ritchie JC, Sher AV, Spear RW, Williams JW, Yu G (2000) Pollen-based biomes for Beringia 18,000, 6000 and 0 14C yr B.P. J Biogeogr 27: 521–554Google Scholar
  15. Farrera I, Harrison SP, Prentice IC, Ramstein G, Guiot J, Bartlein PJ, Bonnefille R, Bush M, Cramer W, von Grafenstein U, Holmgren K, Hooghiemstra H, Hope G, Jolly D, Lauritzen SE, Ono Y, Pinot S, Stute M, Yu G (1999) Tropical palaeoclimates at the Last Glacial Maximum: a new synthesis of terrestrial data. I. Vegetation, lake-levels and geochemistry. Clim Dyn 15: 823–856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fein JS, Stephens PL (eds) (1987) Monsoons. J Wiley, New York, pp 632Google Scholar
  17. Feng ZD, Johnson WC, Lu YC, Ward PA (1994) Climatic signals from loess-soil sequences in the central Great-Plains, USA. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclim Palaeoecol 110: 345–358Google Scholar
  18. Forman SL, Oglesby R, Markgraf V, Stafford T (1995) Paleoclimatic significance of Late Quaternary eolian deposition on the Piedmont and High-Plains, Central United-States. Glob Planet Change 11: 35–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Forman SL, Oglesby R, Webb RS (2001) Temporal and spatial patterns of Holocene dune activity on the Great Plains of North America: megadroughts and climate links. Glob Planet Change 29: 1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gajewski K, Gignac LD, Halsey L, John J, Maisongrande P, Mandell P, Mudie PJ, Richard PJH, Sherin AG, Soroko J, Vitt DH, Vance R, Sawada M, Fung I (2000) The climate of North America and adjacent oceans waters ca. 6 ka. Can J Earth Sci 37: 661–681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ganopolski A, Kubatzki C, Claussen M, Brovkin V, Petoukhov V (1998) The influence of vegetation-atmosphere–ocean interaction on climate during the mid-Holocene. Science 280: 1916–1919PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Gent PR, Bryan FO, Danabasoglu G, Doney SC, Holland WR, Large WG, McWilliams JC (1998) The NCAR Climate System Model global ocean component. J Clim 11: 1287–1306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harrison SP (1989) Lake levels and climatic change in eastern North America. Clim Dyn 3: 157–167Google Scholar
  24. Harrison SP (2000) Palaeoenvironmental data sets and model evaluation in PMIP. In: Braconnot P (ed) Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP). Proc Third PMIP Workshop, Canada, 4–8 October 1999. WCRP-111, WMO/TD-No. 1007, pp 25–42Google Scholar
  25. Harrison SP, Yu G, Tarasov PE (1996) The Late Quaternary lake-level record from northern Eurasia. Quat Res 45: 138–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harrison SP, Jolly D, Laarif F, Abe-Ouchi A, Dong B, Herterich K, Hewitt C, Joussaume S, Kutzbach JE, Mitchell J, de Noblet N, Valdes P (1998) Intercomparison of simulated global vegetation distribution in response to 6 kyr B.P. orbital forcing. J Clim 11: 2721–2742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harrison SP, Yu G, Vassiljev J (2002) Climate changes during the Holocene recorded by lakes from Europe. In: Wefer G, Berger WH, Behre K-E, Jansen E (eds) Climate development and history of the North Atlantic realm. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 191–204Google Scholar
  28. Hastenrath S (ed) (1985) Climate and circulation of the tropics. Reidel Publishing, Dordrecht, pp 455Google Scholar
  29. Hastenrath S (1990) Diagnostics and prediction of anomalous river discharge in Northern South-America. J Clim 3: 1080–1096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hewitt CD, Mitchell JFB (1998) A fully coupled GCM simulation of the climate of the mid-Holocene. Geophys Res Lett 25: 361–364Google Scholar
  31. Higgins RW, Shi W (2000) Dominant factors responsible for interannual variability of the summer monsoon in the southwestern United States. J Clim 13: 759–776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Higgins RW, Yao Y, Wang XL (1997) Influence of the North American monsoon system on the US summer precipitation regime. J Clim 10: 2600–2622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Higgins RW, Mo KC, Yao Y (1998) Interannual variability of the US summer precipitation regime with emphasis on the southwestern monsoon. J Clim 11: 2582–2606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Holliday VT (1997) Origin and evolution of lunettes on the high plains of Texas and New Mexico. Quat Res 47: 54–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hoskins B (1996) On the existence and strength of the summer subtropical anticyclones: the Bernard Haurwitz Memorial Lecture. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77: 1287–1292Google Scholar
  36. Jacob RL (1997) Low frequency variability in a simulated atmosphere ocean system. PhD thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, pp 170Google Scholar
  37. Joussaume S, Braconnot P (1997) Sensitivity of paleoclimate simulation results to season definitions. J Geophys Res Atmos 102: 1943–1956Google Scholar
  38. Joussaume S, Taylor KE, Braconnot P, Mitchell JFB, Kutzbach JE, Harrison SP, Prentice IC, Broccoli AJ, Abe-Ouchi A, Bartlein PJ, Bonfils C, Dong B, Guiot J, Herterich K, Hewitt CD, Jolly D, Kim JW, Kislov A, Kitoh A, Loutre MF, Masson V, McAvaney B, McFarlane N, de Noblet N, Peltier WR, Peterschmitt JY, Pollard D, Rind D, Royer JF, Schlesinger ME, Syktus J, Thompson S, Valdes P, Vettoretti G, Webb RS, Wyputta U (1999) Monsoon changes for 6000 years ago: results of 18 simulations from the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project (PMIP). Geophys Res Lett 26: 859–862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Keen KL, Shane LCK (1990) A continuous record of Holocene eolian activity and vegetation change at Lake Ann, East-Central Minnesota. Geol Soc Am Bull 102: 1646–1657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kiehl JT, Boville B, Briegleb B, Hack J, Rasch P, Williamson D (1996) Description of the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM3). National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, pp 152Google Scholar
  41. Kistler R, Kalnay E, Collins W, Saha S, White G, Woollen J, Chelliah M, Ebisuzaki W, Kanamitsu M, Kousky V, van den Dool H, Jenne R, Fiorino M (2001) NCEP-NCAR 50-year reanalysis: monthly means CD-ROM and documentation. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 82: 247–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kohfeld KE, Harrison SP (2000) How well can we simulate past climates? Evaluating the models using global palaeoenvironmental data sets. Quat Sci Rev 19: 321–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kutzbach JE, Gallimore RG (1988) Sensitivity of a coupled atmosphere mixed layer ocean model to changes in orbital forcing at 9000 years B.P. J Geophys Res 93: 803–821Google Scholar
  44. Kutzbach JE, Guetter PJ (1986) The influence of changing orbital parameters and surface boundary conditions on climate simulations for the past 18000 years. J Atmos Sci 43: 1726–1759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kutzbach JE, Liu Z (1997) Response of the African monsoon to orbital forcing and ocean feedbacks in the middle Holocene. Science 278: 440–443Google Scholar
  46. Kutzbach JE, Otto-Bliesner BL (1982) The sensitivity of the African-Asian monsoonal climate to orbital parameter changes for 9000 years B.P. in a low-resolution general circulation model. J Atmos Sci 39: 1177–1188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kutzbach JE, Webb III T (1993) Conceptual basis for understanding late-quaternary climates. In: Wright Jr HE, Kutzbach JE, Webb III T, Ruddiman WF, Street-Perrott FA, Bartlein PJ (eds) Global climates since the Last Glacial Maximum. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 5–11Google Scholar
  48. Kutzbach JE, Guetter PJ, Behling PJ, Selin R (1993) Simulated climatic changes: results of the COHMAP climate-model experiments. In: Wright Jr HE, Kutzbach JE, Webb III T, Ruddiman WF, Street-Perrott FA, Bartlein PJ (eds) Global climates since the Last Glacial Maximum. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 24–93Google Scholar
  49. Kutzbach JE, Gallimore R, Harrison SP, Behling P, Selin R, Laarif F (1998) Climate and biome simulations for the past 21,000 years. Quat Sci Rev 17: 473–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kutzbach JE, Harrison SP, Coe MT (2001) Land–ocean–atmosphere interactions and monsoon climate change: a palaeo-perspective. In: Schulze ED, Heimann M, Harrison SP, Holland E, Lloyd J, Prentice IC, Schimel D (eds) Global biogeochemical cycles in the climate system. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 73–83Google Scholar
  51. Liu Z, Gallimore RG, Kutzbach JE, Xu W, Golubev Y, Behling P, Selin R (1999a) Modeling long-term climate changes with equilibrium asynchronous coupling. Clim Dyn 15: 325–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Liu Z, Jacob R, Kutzbach J, Harrison S, Anderson J (1999b) Monsoon impact on El Niño in the early Holocene. Pages Newsl 7: 16–17Google Scholar
  53. Liu ZY, Kutzbach JE, Wu LX (2000) Modeling climatic shift of El Niño variability in the Holocene. Geophys Res Lett 27: 2265–2268Google Scholar
  54. Liu Z, Wu L (2000) Tropical atlantic variability in a coupled GCM. Atmos Sci Lett 1: 26–36 (http://www.idealibrary.com/links/toc/asle/1/1/0)Google Scholar
  55. Liu Z, Wu L, Gallimore R, Jacob R (2002) Search for the origins of Pacific decadal variability. Geophys Res Lett 29: DOI 10.1029/2001GL013735Google Scholar
  56. Markgraf V, Baumgartner TR, Bradbury JP, Diaz HF, Dunbar RB, Luckman BH, Seltzer GO, Swetnam TW, Villalba R (2000) Paleoclimate reconstruction along the Pole-Equator-Pole transect of the Americas (PEP 1). Quat Sci Rev 19: 125–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Metcalfe SE, O'Hara SL, Caballero M, Davies SJ (2000) Records of Late Pleistocene-Holocene climatic change in Mexico – a review. Quat Sci Rev 19: 699–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Mitchell JFB, Grahame, NS, Needham, KJ (1988) Climate simulations for 9000 years before present: seasonal variations and the effect of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. J Geophys Res Atmos 93: 8283–8303Google Scholar
  59. Mock CJ, Brunelle-Daines AR (1999) A modern analogue of western United States summer palaeoclimate at 6000 years before present. The Holocene 9: 541–545Google Scholar
  60. Montoya M, Crowley TJ, von Storch H (1998) Temperatures at the last interglacial simulated by a coupled ocean–atmosphere climate model. Paleoceanogr 13: 170–177Google Scholar
  61. Montoya M, von Storch H, Crowley TJ (2000) Climate simulation for 125 kyr BP with a coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation model. J Clim 13: 1057–1072CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Muhs DR, Zárate M (2001) Late Quaternary eolian records of the Americas and their paleoclimatic significance. In: Markgraf V (ed) Interhemispheric climate linkages. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 183–216Google Scholar
  63. Otto-Bliesner BL (1999) El Niño, La Niña and Sahel precipitation during the middle Holocene. Geophys Res Lett 26: 87–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Peterson TC, Vose RS (1999) Data Documentation for Data Set TD9100, Global Historical Climatology Network. National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC, pp 29 (htpp://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/documentlibrary/tddoc/td9100.txt)Google Scholar
  65. Prentice IC, Webb III T (1998) BIOME 6000: reconstructing global mid-Holocene vegetation patterns from palaeoecological records. J Biogeogr 25: 997–1005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Prentice IC, Guiot J, Harrison SP (1992) Mediterranean vegetation, lake levels and palaeoclimate at the Last Glacial Maximum. Nature 360: 658–660Google Scholar
  67. Prentice IC, Jolly D, BIOME 6000 Members (2000) Mid-Holocene and glacial-maximum vegetation geography of the northern continents and Africa. J Biogeogr 27: 507–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ramage CS (ed) (1971) Monsoon meteorology. Academic Press, New York, pp 295Google Scholar
  69. Rasmusson EM, Arkin PA (1993) A global view of large-scale precipitation variability. J Clim 6: 1495–1522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Ritchie JC, Harrison SP (1993) Vegetation, lake level, and climate in Western Canada during the Holocene. In: Wright Jr HE, Kutzbach JE, Webb III T, Ruddiman WF, Street-Perrott FA, Bartlein PJ (eds) Global climates since the Last Glacial Maximum. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 401–414Google Scholar
  71. Rodwell MJ, Hoskins BJ (1996) Monsoons and the dynamics of deserts. Q J R Meteorol Soc 122: 1385–1404Google Scholar
  72. Rodwell MJ, Hoskins BJ (2001) Subtropical anticyclones and summer monsoons. J Clim 14: 3192–3211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Stuiver M, Reimer PJ (1993) Extended 14C data base and revised Calib 3.0 14C age calibration program. Radiocarbon 35: 215–230Google Scholar
  74. Tang M, Reiter ER (1984) Plateau monsoons of the Northern Hemisphere: a comparison between North America and Tibet. Mon Weather Rev 112: 617–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Texier D, de Noblet N, Harrison SP, Haxeltine A, Jolly D, Joussaume S, Laarif F, Prentice IC, Tarasov PE (1997) Quantifying the role of biosphere–atmosphere feedbacks in climate change: coupled model simulation for 6000 years BP and comparison with palaeodata for northern Eurasia and northern Africa. Clim Dyn 13: 865–882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Thompson RS, Anderson KH (2000) Biomes of western North America at 18,000, 6000, and 0 14C yr B.P. reconstructed from pollen and packrat midden data. J Biogeogr 27: 555–584Google Scholar
  77. Thompson RS, Whitlock C, Bartlein PJ, Harrison SP, Spaulding WG (1993) Climatic changes in the western United States since 18,000 yr BP. In: Wright Jr HE, Kutzbach JE, Webb III T, Ruddiman WF, Street-Perrott FA, Bartlein PJ (eds) Global climates since the Last Glacial Maximum. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 468–513Google Scholar
  78. Weatherly JW, Briegleb BP, Large WG, Maslanik JA (1998) Sea ice and polar climate in the NCAR CSM. J Clim 11: 1472–1486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Webb III T, Bartlein PJ, Harrison SP, Anderson KH (1993) Vegetation, lake-levels, and climate in eastern North America for past 18,000 years. In: Wright Jr HE, Kutzbach JE, Webb III T, Ruddiman WF, Street-Perrott FA, Bartlein PJ (eds) Global climates since the Last Glacial Maximum. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 415–467Google Scholar
  80. Webster PJ (1987) The elementary monsoon. In: Fein JS, Stephens PI (eds) Monsoons. J Wiley, New York, pp 3–32Google Scholar
  81. Williams JW, Webb III T, Richard PH, Newby P (2000) Late Quaternary biomes of Canada and the eastern United States. J Biogeogr 27: 585–607Google Scholar
  82. Yu G, Harrison SP (1995) Lake status records from Europe: data base documentation. NOAA Paleoclimatology Publications Series Rep 3: 1–451Google Scholar
  83. Yu G, Harrison SP (1996) An evaluation of the simulated water balance of Eurasia and northern Africa at 6000 y BP using lake status data. Clim Dyn 12: 723–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Zhou JY, Lau KM (1998) Does a monsoon climate exist over South America? J Clim 11: 1020–1040CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. P. Harrison
    • 1
  • J. E. Kutzbach
    • 2
  • Z. Liu
    • 2
  • P. J. Bartlein
    • 3
  • B. Otto-Bliesner
    • 4
  • D. Muhs
    • 5
  • I. C. Prentice
    • 1
  • R. S. Thompson
    • 5
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, PO Box 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany
  2. 2.Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1225 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA
  3. 3.Department of Geography, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, OR 97403-1251, USA
  4. 4.National Center for Atmospheric Research, PO Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307, USA
  5. 5.U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Surface Processes Team, Box 25046, MS980, Denver, CO 80225, USA

Personalised recommendations