1Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
3Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate, Switzerland
Abstract. Using a highly resolved atmospheric general circulation model the impact of different glacial boundary conditions on precipitation and atmospheric dynamics in the North Atlantic region is investigated. Seven 30-yr time slice experiments of the Last Glacial Maximum (21 ka ago) and of a less pronounced glacial state – the Middle Weichselian (65 ka ago) – are compared to analyse the sensitivity to changes in the ice sheet distribution, in the radiative forcing, and in the prescribed time-varying lower boundary conditions, which are taken from a lower-resolved but fully-coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model.
The strongest differences are found for simulations with different heights of the Laurentide ice sheet. A large altitude of this ice sheet leads to a southward displacement of the jet stream and the storm track in the North Atlantic region. These changes in the atmospheric dynamics generate a band of increased precipitation in the mid-latitudes across the Atlantic to southern Europe in winter, while the precipitation pattern in summer is only marginally affected. The impact of the radiative forcing differences between the two glacial periods and of the prescribed time-varying lower boundary conditions – evaluated using two simulations of the Last Glacial Maximum with a global mean temperature difference of 1.1 °C – are of second order compared to the one of the Laurentide ice sheet. They affect the atmospheric dynamics and precipitation in a similar but less pronounced manner as the topographic changes.