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See detailEffects of CO2, continental distribution, topography and vegetation changes on the climate at the Middle Miocene: a model study
Henrot, Alexandra ULg; François, Louis ULg; Favre, Eric ULg et al

in Climate of the Past (2010), 6

The Middle Miocene was one of the last warm periods of the Neogene, culminating with the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum (MMCO, approximatively 17–15 Ma). Several proxy-based reconstructions support ... [more ▼]

The Middle Miocene was one of the last warm periods of the Neogene, culminating with the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum (MMCO, approximatively 17–15 Ma). Several proxy-based reconstructions support warmer and more humid climate during the MMCO. The mechanisms responsible for the warmer climate at the MMCO and particularly the role of the atmospheric carbon dioxide are still highly debated. Here we carried out a series of sensitivity experiments with the model of intermediate complexity Planet Simulator, investigating the contributions of the absence of ice on the continents, the opening of the Central American and Eastern Tethys Seaways, the lowering of the topography on land, the effect of various atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the vegetation feedback. Our results show that a higher than present-day CO2 concentration is necessary to generate a warmer climate at all latitudes at the Middle Miocene, in agreement with the terrestrial proxy reconstructions which suggest high atmospheric CO2 concentrations at the MMCO. Nevertheless, the changes in sea-surface conditions, the lowering of the topography on land and the vegetation feedback also produce significant local warming that may, locally, even be stronger than the CO2 induced temperature increases. The lowering of the topography leads to a more zonal atmospheric circulation and allows the westerly flow to continue over the lowered Plateaus at mid-latitudes. The reduced height of the Tibetan Plateau notably prevents the development of a monsoon-like circulation, whereas the reduction of elevations of the North American and European reliefs strongly increases precipitation from northwestern to eastern Europe. The changes in vegetation cover contribute to maintain and even to intensify the warm and humid conditions produced by the other factors, suggesting that the vegetation-climate interactions could help to improve the model-data comparison. [less ▲]

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See detailMiddle Miocene climate and vegetation modelling with PLASIM and CARAIB
Henrot, Alexandra ULg; François, Louis ULg; Favre, Eric ULg et al

Conference (2009, April 21)

In a long-term climatic cooling trend, the Middle Miocene represents one of the last warm periods of the Neogene, culminating with the Miocene Climatic Optimum, MCO (17-15 My). Palynological studies ... [more ▼]

In a long-term climatic cooling trend, the Middle Miocene represents one of the last warm periods of the Neogene, culminating with the Miocene Climatic Optimum, MCO (17-15 My). Palynological studies suggest that the warmer climatic conditions prevailing during the MCO allowed warm forests to expand poleward of the subtropical zone, with evergreen forests proliferating in North America and Europe (Jimenez-Moreno and Suc, 2007, Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 253: 208-225). In this work, we used the Planet Simulator (Fraedrich et al., 2005, Meteorol. Z. 14: 299-304 and 305-314), an Earth system model of intermediate complexity, to carry out several simulation experiments, where we have assessed the effects of the absence of ice on the continents, the opening of the Central American and Eastern Tethys seaways, the lowering of the topography on land and the effect of various atmospheric CO2 concentrations, in agreement with the values reported in the litterature. We then produced several vegetation distributions, using the dynamic vegetation model CARAIB (Galy et al., 2008, Quat. Sci. Rev. 27: 1396-1409), to analyse if the climatic forcings considered are sufficient to explain the expansion of warmer forest types to higher latitudes. Our results indicate that an increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration, higher than the present-day one, is necessary to allow subtropical forest types to expand poleward. This result agrees with recent paleo-atmospheric CO2 reconstruction from stomatal frequency analysis, which suggests 500 ppmv of CO2 during the MCO. However, the required warming may be due to processes not considered in our setup (e.g. full oceanic circulation or other greenhouse gases). [less ▲]

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