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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-34
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-34
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 19 Mar 2019

Research article | 19 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Modelling ice sheet evolution and atmospheric CO2 during the Late Pliocene

Constantijn J. Berends1, Bas de Boer2, Aisling M. Dolan3, Daniel J. Hill3, and Roderik S. W. van de Wal1 Constantijn J. Berends et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • 2Earth and Climate Cluster, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 3School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK

Abstract. In order to investigate the relation between ice sheets and climate in a warmer-than-present world, recent research has focussed on the Late Pliocene, 3.6 to 2.58 million years ago. It is the most recent period in Earth history when such a climate state existed for a significant duration of time. Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) M2 (~ 3.3 Myr ago) is a strong positive excursion in benthic oxygen records in the middle of the otherwise warm and relatively stable Late Pliocene. However, the relative contributions to the benthic δ18O signal from deep-ocean cooling and growing ice sheets are still uncertain. Here, we present results from simulations of the late Pliocene with a hybrid ice-sheet–climate model, showing a reconstruction of ice sheet geometry, sea-level and atmospheric CO2. Initial experiments simulating the last four glacial cycles indicate that this model yields results which are in good agreement with proxy records in terms of global mean sea level, benthic oxygen isotope abundance, ice core-derived surface temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration. For the Late Pliocene, our results show an atmospheric CO2 concentration during MIS M2 of 233–249 ppmv, and a drop in global mean sea level of 10 to 25 m. Uncertainties are larger during the warmer periods leading up to and following MIS M2. CO2 concentrations during the warm intervals in the Pliocene, with sea-level high stands of 8–14 m above present-day, varied between 320 and 400 ppmv, lower than indicated by some proxy records but in line with earlier model reconstructions.

Constantijn J. Berends et al.
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Constantijn J. Berends et al.
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Berends_etal_2019_GMD_supplement Constantijn Berends, Bas de Boer, Aisling M. Dolan, Dan J. Hill, and Roderik S. W. van de Wal https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2598292

Constantijn J. Berends et al.
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Short summary
The Late Pliocene, 3.65–2.75 million years ago, is the most recent period in Earth history that was warmer than the present. This makes it interesting for climatological research, because it provides a possible analogue for the near future. We used a coupled ice-sheet–climate model to simulate the behaviour of these systems during this period. We show that the warmest moment saw a sea-level rise of 8–14 meter, with a CO2 concentration of 320–400 ppmv.
The Late Pliocene, 3.65–2.75 million years ago, is the most recent period in Earth history that...
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