Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Western Arctic Temperature Sensitivity Varies under Different Mean States

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 14:40
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The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere on earth. Predictions of future change, however, are hindered by uncertainty in the mechanisms that underpin Arctic amplification. Data from Beringia (Alaska and Eastern Siberia) are particularly inconclusive with regards to both glacial-interglacial climate change as well as the presence or absence of abrupt climate change events such as the Younger Dryas. Here we investigate temperature change in Beringia from the last glacial maximum (LGM) to present using a unique 30 kyr lacustrine record of leaf wax hydrogen isotope ratios (δDwax) from Northern Alaska. We evaluate our results in the context of PMIP3 climate simulations as well as sensitivity tests of the effects of sea level and Bering Strait closure on Arctic Alaskan climate. The amplitude of LGM cooling in Alaska (-3.2 °C relative to pre-industrial) is smaller than other parts of North America and areas proximal to LGM ice sheets, but similar to Arctic Asia and Europe. This suggests that the local feedbacks (vegetation, etc.) had limited impacts on regional temperatures during the last ice-age, and suggests most of the Arctic exhibited similar responses to global climate boundary conditions. Deglacial warming was superimposed by a series of rapid warming events that encompass most of the temperature increase. These events are largely synchronous with abrupt events in the North Atlantic, but are amplified, muted, or even reversed in comparison depending on the mean climate state. For example, we observe warming during Heinrich 1 and during the submergence of the Bering Land Bridge, which are associated with cooling in the North Atlantic. Climate modeling suggests that opening of the Bering Strait controlled the amplitude and sign of millennial-scale temperature changes across the glacial termination.

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