Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
Clim. Past, 8, 373–390, 2012

Special issue: Climate variations in South America over the last 2000 years

Clim. Past, 8, 373–390, 2012

Research article 29 Feb 2012

Research article | 29 Feb 2012

Climate variability of the mid- and high-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere in ensemble simulations from 1500 to 2000 AD

S. B. Wilmes*,2,1, C. C. Raible2,1, and T. F. Stocker2,1 S. B. Wilmes et al.
  • 1Climate and Environmental Physics, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Bern, Switzerland
  • *now at: School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, Menai Bridge, UK

Abstract. To increase the sparse knowledge of long-term Southern Hemisphere (SH) climate variability, we assess an ensemble of 4 transient simulations over the last 500 yr performed with a state-of-the-art atmosphere ocean general circulation model. The model is forced with reconstructions of solar irradiance, greenhouse gas (GHG) and volcanic aerosol concentrations. A 1990 control simulation shows that the model is able to represent the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), and to some extent the South Pacific Dipole (SPD) and the Zonal Wave 3 (ZW3). During the past 500 yr we find that SPD and ZW3 variability remain stable, whereas SAM shows a significant shift towards its positive state during the 20th century. Regional temperatures over South America are strongly influenced by changing both GHG concentrations and volcanic eruptions, whereas precipitation shows no significant response to the varying external forcing. For temperature this stands in contrast to proxy records, suggesting that SH climate is dominated by internal variability rather than external forcing. The underlying dynamics of the temperature changes generally point to a combination of several modes, thus, hampering the possibilities of regional reconstructing the modes from proxy records. The linear imprint of the external forcing is as expected, i.e. a warming for increase in the combined solar and GHG forcing and a cooling after volcanic eruptions. Dynamically, only the increase in SAM with increased combined forcing is simulated.