Articles | Volume 5, issue 5
Model experiment description paper
13 Sep 2012
Model experiment description paper |  | 13 Sep 2012

Mid-Pliocene climate modelled using the UK Hadley Centre Model: PlioMIP Experiments 1 and 2

F. J. Bragg, D. J. Lunt, and A. M. Haywood

Abstract. The Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP) is a sub-project of the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP) whose objective is to compare predictions of the mid-Pliocene climate from the widest possible range of general circulation models. The mid-Pliocene (3.3–3.0 Ma) is the most recent sustained period of greater warmth and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration than the pre-industrial times and as such has potential to inform predictions of our warming climate in the coming century. This paper describes the UK contribution to PlioMIP using the Hadley Centre Model both in atmosphere-only mode (HadAM3, PlioMIP Experiment 1) and atmosphere-ocean coupled mode (HadCM3, PlioMIP Experiment 2). The coupled model predicts a greater overall warming (3.3 °C) relative to the control than the atmosphere-only (2.5 °C). The Northern Hemisphere latitudinal temperature gradient is greater in the coupled model with a warmer Equator and colder Arctic than the atmosphere-only model, which is constrained by sea surface temperatures from Pliocene proxy reconstructions. The atmosphere-only model predicts a reduction in equatorial precipitation and south Asian monsoon intensity, whereas the coupled model shows an increase in the intensity of these systems. We present sensitivity studies using alternative boundary conditions for both the Pliocene and the control simulations, indicating the sensitivity of the mid-Pliocene warming to uncertainties in both pre-industrial and mid-Pliocene climate.