Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
Research article
04 Nov 2013
Research article |  | 04 Nov 2013

Greenland accumulation and its connection to the large-scale atmospheric circulation in ERA-Interim and paleoclimate simulations

N. Merz, C. C. Raible, H. Fischer, V. Varma, M. Prange, and T. F. Stocker

Abstract. Changes in Greenland accumulation and the stability in the relationship between accumulation variability and large-scale circulation are assessed by performing time-slice simulations for the present day, the preindustrial era, the early Holocene, and the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) with a comprehensive climate model. The stability issue is an important prerequisite for reconstructions of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation variability based on accumulation or precipitation proxy records from Greenland ice cores. The analysis reveals that the relationship between accumulation variability and large-scale circulation undergoes a significant seasonal cycle. As the contributions of the individual seasons to the annual signal change, annual mean accumulation variability is not necessarily related to the same atmospheric circulation patterns during the different climate states. Interestingly, within a season, local Greenland accumulation variability is indeed linked to a consistent circulation pattern, which is observed for all studied climate periods, even for the LGM. Hence, it would be possible to deduce a reliable reconstruction of seasonal atmospheric variability (e.g., for North Atlantic winters) if an accumulation or precipitation proxy were available that resolves single seasons. We further show that the simulated impacts of orbital forcing and changes in the ice sheet topography on Greenland accumulation exhibit strong spatial differences, emphasizing that accumulation records from different ice core sites regarding both interannual and long-term (centennial to millennial) variability cannot be expected to look alike since they include a distinct local signature. The only uniform signal to external forcing is the strong decrease in Greenland accumulation during glacial (LGM) conditions and an increase associated with the recent rise in greenhouse gas concentrations.