The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ∼ 21 000 years ago) has been a major focus for evaluating how well state-of-the-art climate models simulate climate changes as large as those expected in the future using paleoclimate reconstructions. A new generation of climate models has been used to generate LGM simulations as part of the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP) contribution to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). Here, we provide a preliminary analysis and evaluation of the results of these LGM experiments (PMIP4, most of which are PMIP4-CMIP6) and compare them with the previous generation of simulations (PMIP3, most of which are PMIP3-CMIP5). We show that the global averages of the PMIP4 simulations span a larger range in terms of mean annual surface air temperature and mean annual precipitation compared to the PMIP3-CMIP5 simulations, with some PMIP4 simulations reaching a globally colder and drier state. However, the multi-model global cooling average is similar for the PMIP4 and PMIP3 ensembles, while the multi-model PMIP4 mean annual precipitation average is drier than the PMIP3 one. There are important differences in both atmospheric and oceanic circulations between the two sets of experiments, with the northern and southern jet streams being more poleward and the changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation being less pronounced in the PMIP4-CMIP6 simulations than in the PMIP3-CMIP5 simulations. Changes in simulated precipitation patterns are influenced by both temperature and circulation changes. Differences in simulated climate between individual models remain large. Therefore, although there are differences in the average behaviour across the two ensembles, the new simulation results are not fundamentally different from the PMIP3-CMIP5 results. Evaluation of large-scale climate features, such as land-sea contrast and polar amplification, confirms that the models capture these well and within the uncertainty of the paleoclimate reconstructions. Nevertheless, regional climate changes are less well simulated: the models underestimate extratropical cooling, particularly in winter, and precipitation changes. These results point to the utility of using paleoclimate simulations to understand the mechanisms of climate change and evaluate model performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Global and Planetary Change