A proxy-model comparison for mid-Pliocene warm period hydroclimate in the Southwestern US

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2022.117803. This is version 1 of this Preprint.

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Sofia Menemenlis , Sarah M White , Juan M Lora , Daniel Enrique Ibarra 


Hydroclimate proxy reconstructions and paleoclimate models of the mid-Pliocene warm period provide insight into how, under a moderate greenhouse warming scenario, Earth-system feedbacks may impact regional hydroclimate. However, in the Southwestern United States there is discord between these two types of information: proxy data have been interpreted to indicate much wetter conditions, while the most recent generation of mid-Pliocene warm period climate models simulates drying. We use a water and energy balance framework to directly compare paleoclimate model output to a refined compilation of proxy records of the presence and areal extent of mid-Pliocene lakes. Within this framework, we quantify uncertainties in the proxy system model parameters and in the interpretation of available proxy records. We find that despite these significant uncertainties, most paleoclimate models simulate a regional balance between precipitation and evaporative demand that could not have sustained the extent of recorded lakes from this time. Moreover, the extensive lakes included as boundary conditions in mid-Pliocene warm period climate models are inconsistent with the regional climate simulated by those same models. This study identifies and quantifies the remaining unknowns in our picture of regional mid-Pliocene warm period hydroclimate, with implications for analyses of climate dynamics during this time.




Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Pliocene, Proxy-model comparison


Published: 2021-10-06 09:11


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
PlioMIP2 data are available from the PlioMIP2 data repository at the University of Leeds.