Articles | Volume 12, issue 7
Clim. Past, 12, 1519–1538, 2016

Special issue: PlioMIP Phase 2: experimental design, implementation and scientific...

Clim. Past, 12, 1519–1538, 2016

Research article 13 Jul 2016

Research article | 13 Jul 2016

The PRISM4 (mid-Piacenzian) paleoenvironmental reconstruction

Harry Dowsett1, Aisling Dolan2, David Rowley3, Robert Moucha4, Alessandro M. Forte5,6, Jerry X. Mitrovica7, Matthew Pound8, Ulrich Salzmann8, Marci Robinson1, Mark Chandler9,10, Kevin Foley1, and Alan Haywood2 Harry Dowsett et al.
  • 1Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center, United States Geological Survey, Reston, VA 20192, USA
  • 2School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
  • 3Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA
  • 5Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
  • 6GEOTOP, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal QC, H3C 3P8, Canada
  • 7Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
  • 8Department of Geography, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
  • 9Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
  • 10NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, USA

Abstract. The mid-Piacenzian is known as a period of relative warmth when compared to the present day. A comprehensive understanding of conditions during the Piacenzian serves as both a conceptual model and a source for boundary conditions as well as means of verification of global climate model experiments. In this paper we present the PRISM4 reconstruction, a paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the mid-Piacenzian ( ∼  3 Ma) containing data for paleogeography, land and sea ice, sea-surface temperature, vegetation, soils, and lakes. Our retrodicted paleogeography takes into account glacial isostatic adjustments and changes in dynamic topography. Soils and lakes, both significant as land surface features, are introduced to the PRISM reconstruction for the first time. Sea-surface temperature and vegetation reconstructions are unchanged but now have confidence assessments. The PRISM4 reconstruction is being used as boundary condition data for the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project Phase 2 (PlioMIP2) experiments.

Short summary
Past intervals in Earth history provide unique windows into conditions much different than those observed today. We investigated the paleoenvironments of a past warm interval (~ 3 million years ago). Our reconstruction includes data sets for surface temperature, vegetation, soils, lakes, ice sheets, topography, and bathymetry. These data are being used along with global climate models to expand our understanding of the climate system and to help us prepare for future changes.