Articles | Volume 11, issue 1
Clim. Past, 11, 45–61, 2015
Clim. Past, 11, 45–61, 2015

Research article 12 Jan 2015

Research article | 12 Jan 2015

Global sensitivity analysis of the Indian monsoon during the Pleistocene

P. A. Araya-Melo, M. Crucifix, and N. Bounceur P. A. Araya-Melo et al.
  • Université catholique de Louvain, Earth and Life Institute, Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Abstract. The sensitivity of the Indian monsoon to the full spectrum of climatic conditions experienced during the Pleistocene is estimated using the climate model HadCM3. The methodology follows a global sensitivity analysis based on the emulator approach of Oakley and O'Hagan (2004) implemented following a three-step strategy: (1) development of an experiment plan, designed to efficiently sample a five-dimensional input space spanning Pleistocene astronomical configurations (three parameters), CO2 concentration and a Northern Hemisphere glaciation index; (2) development, calibration and validation of an emulator of HadCM3 in order to estimate the response of the Indian monsoon over the full input space spanned by the experiment design; and (3) estimation and interpreting of sensitivity diagnostics, including sensitivity measures, in order to synthesise the relative importance of input factors on monsoon dynamics, estimate the phase of the monsoon intensity response with respect to that of insolation, and detect potential non-linear phenomena.

By focusing on surface temperature, precipitation, mixed-layer depth and sea-surface temperature over the monsoon region during the summer season (June-July-August-September), we show that precession controls the response of four variables: continental temperature in phase with June to July insolation, high glaciation favouring a late-phase response, sea-surface temperature in phase with May insolation, continental precipitation in phase with July insolation, and mixed-layer depth in antiphase with the latter. CO2 variations control temperature variance with an amplitude similar to that of precession. The effect of glaciation is dominated by the albedo forcing, and its effect on precipitation competes with that of precession. Obliquity is a secondary effect, negligible on most variables except sea-surface temperature. It is also shown that orography forcing reduces the glacial cooling, and even has a positive effect on precipitation.

As regards the general methodology, it is shown that the emulator provides a powerful approach, not only to express model sensitivity but also to estimate internal variability and detect anomalous simulations.

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Short summary
By using a statistical tool termed emulator, we study the sensitivity of the Indian monsoon during the the Pleistocene. The originality of the present work is to consider, as inputs, several elements of the climate forcing that have varied in the past, and then use the emulator as a method to quantify the link between forcing variability and climate variability. The methodology described here may naturally be applied to other regions of interest.