Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
Research article
22 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 22 Jul 2013

Importance of precipitation seasonality for the interpretation of Eemian ice core isotope records from Greenland

W. J. van de Berg, M. R. van den Broeke, E. van Meijgaard, and F. Kaspar

Abstract. The previous interglacial (Eemian, 130–114 kyr BP) had a mean sea level highstand 4 to 7 m above the current level, and, according to climate proxies, a 2 to 6 K warmer Arctic summer climate. Greenland ice cores extending back into the Eemian show a reduced depletion in δ18O of about 3‰ for this period, which suggests a significant warming of several degrees over the Greenland ice sheet. Since the depletion in δ18O depends, among other factors, on the condensation temperature of the precipitation, we analyze climatological processes other than mean temperature changes that influence condensation temperature, using output of the regional climate model RACMO2. This model is driven by ERA-40 reanalysis and ECHO-G GCM boundaries for present-day, preindustrial and Eemian climate. The processes that affect the condensation temperature of the precipitation are analyzed using 6-hourly model output. Our results show that changes in precipitation seasonality can cause significant changes of up to 2 K in the condensation temperature that are unrelated to changes in mean temperature.