AMOC and summer sea ice as key drivers of the spread in mid-holocene winter temperature patterns over Europe in PMIP3 models

Gainusa-Bogdan, Alina ; Swingedouw, Didier ; Yiou, Pascal ; Cattiaux, Julien ; Codron, Francis ; Michel, Simon

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The mid-Holocene (6000 years before present) was a warmer period than today in summer in most of the Northern Hemisphere. In winter, over Europe, pollen-based reconstructions show a dipole of temperature anomalies as compared to present-day, with warmer conditions in the north and colder in the south. It has been proposed that this pattern of temperature anomaly could be explained by a persisting positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation during this period, which was, however, not reproduced in general by climate models. Indeed, PMIP3 models show a large spread in their response to the mid-Holocene insolation changes, the physical origins of which are not understood. To improve the understanding of the reconstructed temperature changes and of the PMIP3 model spread, we analyze the dynamical response of these model simulations in the North Atlantic for mid-Holocene conditions as compared to pre-industrial. We focus on the European pattern of temperature in winter and compare the simulations with a pollen-based reconstruction. We find that some of the model simulations yield a similar pattern to the reconstructed one, but with far lower amplitude, although it remains within the reconstruction uncertainty. We attribute the northern warm part of the latitudinal dipole of temperature anomaly in winter to a lower sea-ice cover in the Nordic Seas. The decrease of sea ice in winter indeed reduces the local sea-ice insulation effect, allowing the released ocean heat to reach continental northern Europe. This decrease in winter sea-ice cover is related to an increase in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and its associated ocean heat transport, as well as the effect of insolation changes on sea ice in summer, which persists until winter. We only find a slight cooling signal over southern Europe, compared to reconstructions, mainly related to the insolation-induced cooling in winter over Africa. We show that the models that failed to reproduce any AMOC increase under mid-Holocene conditions are also the ones that do not reproduce the temperature pattern over Europe. The change in sea level pressure is not sufficient to explain the spread among the models. The ocean-sea ice mechanisms that we proposed constitute an alternative explanation to the pattern of changes in winter temperatures over Europe in the mid-Holocene, which is in better agreement with available model simulations of this period. Finally, we evaluate if reconstructions of the AMOC for the mid-Holocene can provide interesting emerging constraints on key changes in European climate, and indirectly on AMOC response to on-going and future radiative changes. Although there is a significant link between the response of the mid-Holocene and projections, it remains limited. The proposed mechanism does not appear to be sufficient to explain the large discrepancies between models and reconstruction data for the summertime period.</p>

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