Upper ocean climate of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea during the Holocene Insolation Maximum – a model study
- 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
- 2International Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling, Hamburg, Germany
- 3University of Tübingen, Department of Geosciences, Tübingen, Germany
- 4University of Hamburg, Department of Geosciences, Hamburg, Germany
- 5University of Hamburg, Institute for Biogeochemistry and Marine Chemistry, Hamburg, Germany
Abstract. Nine thousand years ago (9 ka BP), the Northern Hemisphere experienced enhanced seasonality caused by an orbital configuration close to the minimum of the precession index. To assess the impact of this "Holocene Insolation Maximum" (HIM) on the Mediterranean Sea, we use a regional ocean general circulation model forced by atmospheric input derived from global simulations. A stronger seasonal cycle is simulated by the model, which shows a relatively homogeneous winter cooling and a summer warming with well-defined spatial patterns, in particular, a subsurface warming in the Cretan and western Levantine areas.
The comparison between the SST simulated for the HIM and a reconstruction from planktonic foraminifera transfer functions shows a poor agreement, especially for summer, when the vertical temperature gradient is strong. As a novel approach, we propose a reinterpretation of the reconstruction, to consider the conditions throughout the upper water column rather than at a single depth. We claim that such a depth-integrated approach is more adequate for surface temperature comparison purposes in a situation where the upper ocean structure in the past was different from the present-day. In this case, the depth-integrated interpretation of the proxy data strongly improves the agreement between modelled and reconstructed temperature signal with the subsurface summer warming being recorded by both model and proxies, with a small shift to the south in the model results.
The mechanisms responsible for the peculiar subsurface pattern are found to be a combination of enhanced downwelling and wind mixing due to strengthened Etesian winds, and enhanced thermal forcing due to the stronger summer insolation in the Northern Hemisphere. Together, these processes induce a stronger heat transfer from the surface to the subsurface during late summer in the western Levantine; this leads to an enhanced heat piracy in this region, a process never identified before, but potentially characteristic of time slices with enhanced insolation.