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

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Authors

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

Abstract

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.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.31223/X5P03R

Subjects

Physical Sciences and Mathematics

Keywords

Pliocene, Proxy-model comparison

Dates

Published: 2021-10-06 12:11

License

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:
None

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

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