Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Model experiment description paper
24 Apr 2013
Model experiment description paper |  | 24 Apr 2013

Simulations of the mid-Pliocene Warm Period using two versions of the NASA/GISS ModelE2-R Coupled Model

M. A. Chandler, L. E. Sohl, J. A. Jonas, H. J. Dowsett, and M. Kelley

Abstract. The mid-Pliocene Warm Period (mPWP) bears many similarities to aspects of future global warming as projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007). Both marine and terrestrial data point to high-latitude temperature amplification, including large decreases in sea ice and land ice, as well as expansion of warmer climate biomes into higher latitudes. Here we present our most recent simulations of the mid-Pliocene climate using the CMIP5 version of the NASA/GISS Earth System Model (ModelE2-R). We describe the substantial impact associated with a recent correction made in the implementation of the Gent-McWilliams ocean mixing scheme (GM), which has a large effect on the simulation of ocean surface temperatures, particularly in the North Atlantic Ocean. The effect of this correction on the Pliocene climate results would not have been easily determined from examining its impact on the preindustrial runs alone, a useful demonstration of how the consequences of code improvements as seen in modern climate control runs do not necessarily portend the impacts in extreme climates.

Both the GM-corrected and GM-uncorrected simulations were contributed to the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP) Experiment 2. Many findings presented here corroborate results from other PlioMIP multi-model ensemble papers, but we also emphasise features in the ModelE2-R simulations that are unlike the ensemble means. The corrected version yields results that more closely resemble the ocean core data as well as the PRISM3D reconstructions of the mid-Pliocene, especially the dramatic warming in the North Atlantic and Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian Sea, which in the new simulation appears to be far more realistic than previously found with older versions of the GISS model. Our belief is that continued development of key physical routines in the atmospheric model, along with higher resolution and recent corrections to mixing parameterisations in the ocean model, have led to an Earth System Model that will produce more accurate projections of future climate.