Clim. Past Discuss., 9, 3825-3870, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in CP.
Greenland accumulation and its connection to the large-scale atmospheric circulation in ERA-Interim and paleo-climate simulations
N. Merz1,2, C. C. Raible1,2, H. Fischer1,2, V. Varma3, M. Prange3, and T. F. Stocker1,2
1Climate and Environmental Physics, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
3MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. Accumulation and aerosol chemistry records from Greenland ice cores offer the potential to reconstruct variability in Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation over the last millennia. However, an important prerequisite for a reconstruction is the stable relationship between local accumulation at the ice core site with the respective circulation pattern throughout the reconstruction period. We address this stability issue by using a comprehensive climate model and performing time-slice simulations for the present, the pre-industrial, the early Holocene and the last glacial maximum (LGM). The relationships between accumulation, precipitation and atmospheric circulation are investigated on on various time-scales. The analysis shows that the relationship between local accumulation on the Greenland ice sheet and the large-scale circulation undergoes a significant seasonal cycle. As the weights of the individual seasons change, annual mean accumulation variability is not necessarily related to the same atmospheric circulation patterns during the different climate states. Within a season, local Greenland accumulation variability is indeed linked to a consistent circulation pattern, which is observed for all studied climate periods, even for the LGM, however these circulation patterns are specific for different regions on the Greenland ice sheet. The simulated impact of orbital forcing and changes in the ice-sheet topography on accumulation exhibits strong spatial variability emphasizing that accumulation records from different ice core sites cannot be expected to look alike since they include a distinct local signature. Accumulation changes between different climate periods are dominated by changes in the amount of snowfall and are driven by both thermodynamic and dynamic factors. The thermodynamic impact determines the strength of the hydrological cycle, and warmer temperatures are generally accompanied by an increase in Greenland precipitation. Dynamical drivers of accumulation changes are the large-scale circulation and the local orography having a distinct influence on the local flow characteristic and hence the amount of precipitation deposited in any Greenland region.

Citation: Merz, N., Raible, C. C., Fischer, H., Varma, V., Prange, M., and Stocker, T. F.: Greenland accumulation and its connection to the large-scale atmospheric circulation in ERA-Interim and paleo-climate simulations, Clim. Past Discuss., 9, 3825-3870, doi:10.5194/cpd-9-3825-2013, 2013.
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