Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
Clim. Past, 9, 699–717, 2013

Special issue: Progress in paleoclimate modelling

Clim. Past, 9, 699–717, 2013

Research article 14 Mar 2013

Research article | 14 Mar 2013

A multi-model assessment of last interglacial temperatures

D. J. Lunt1, A. Abe-Ouchi2, P. Bakker3, A. Berger4, P. Braconnot5, S. Charbit5, N. Fischer6, N. Herold4, J. H. Jungclaus6, V. C. Khon7, U. Krebs-Kanzow7, P. M. Langebroek8, G. Lohmann9, K. H. Nisancioglu10, B. L. Otto-Bliesner11, W. Park12, M. Pfeiffer9, S. J. Phipps13, M. Prange14, R. Rachmayani14, H. Renssen3, N. Rosenbloom11, B. Schneider7, E. J. Stone1, K. Takahashi15, W. Wei9, Q. Yin4, and Z. S. Zhang8 D. J. Lunt et al.
  • 1School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 4Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain, Belgium
  • 5Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, unité mixte CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, France
  • 6Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany
  • 7Department of Geology, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany
  • 8UNI Research and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 9Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany
  • 10University of Bergen and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 11National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, USA
  • 12GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • 13ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • 14MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 15JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan

Abstract. The last interglaciation (~130 to 116 ka) is a time period with a strong astronomically induced seasonal forcing of insolation compared to the present. Proxy records indicate a significantly different climate to that of the modern, in particular Arctic summer warming and higher eustatic sea level. Because the forcings are relatively well constrained, it provides an opportunity to test numerical models which are used for future climate prediction. In this paper we compile a set of climate model simulations of the early last interglaciation (130 to 125 ka), encompassing a range of model complexities. We compare the simulations to each other and to a recently published compilation of last interglacial temperature estimates. We show that the annual mean response of the models is rather small, with no clear signal in many regions. However, the seasonal response is more robust, and there is significant agreement amongst models as to the regions of warming vs cooling. However, the quantitative agreement of the model simulations with data is poor, with the models in general underestimating the magnitude of response seen in the proxies. Taking possible seasonal biases in the proxies into account improves the agreement, but only marginally. However, a lack of uncertainty estimates in the data does not allow us to draw firm conclusions. Instead, this paper points to several ways in which both modelling and data could be improved, to allow a more robust model–data comparison.