A Model-Data Comparison of the Hydrological Response to Miocene Warmth: Leveraging the MioMIP1 Opportunistic Multi-Model Ensemble

R. P. Acosta*, N. J. Burls, M. J. Pound, C. D. Bradshaw, A. M. De Boer, N. Herold, M. Huber, Xiaoqing Liu, Y. Donnadieu, A. Farnsworth, A. Frigola, D. J. Lunt, A. S. von der Heydt, D. K. Hutchinson, G. Knorr, G. Lohmann, A. Marzocchi, M. Prange, A. C. Sarr, Xiangyu LiZhongshi Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Miocene (23.03–5.33 Ma) is recognized as a period with close to modern-day paleogeography, yet a much warmer climate. With large uncertainties in future hydroclimate projections, Miocene conditions illustrate a potential future analog for the Earth system. A recent opportunistic Miocene Model Intercomparison Project 1 (MioMIP1) focused on synthesizing published Miocene climate simulations and comparing them with available temperature reconstructions. Here, we build on this effort by analyzing the hydrological cycle response to Miocene forcings across early-to-middle (E2MMIO; 20.03–11.6 Ma) and middle-to-late Miocene (M2LMIO; 11.5–5.33 Ma) simulations with CO2 concentrations ranging from 200 to 850 ppm and providing a model-data comparison against available precipitation reconstructions. We find global precipitation increases by ∼2.1 and 2.3% per degree of warming for E2MMIO and M2LMIO simulations, respectively. Models generally agree on a wetter than modern-day tropics; mid and high-latitude, however, do not agree on the sign of subtropical precipitation changes with warming. Global monsoon analysis suggests most monsoon regions, except the North American Monsoon, experience higher precipitation rates under warmer conditions. Model-data comparison shows that mean annual precipitation is underestimated by the models regardless of CO2 concentration, particularly in the mid- to high-latitudes. This suggests that the models may not be (a) resolving key processes driving the hydrological cycle response to Miocene boundary conditions and/or (b) other boundary conditions or processes not considered here are critical to reproducing Miocene hydroclimate. This study highlights the challenges in modeling and reconstructing the Miocene hydrological cycle and serves as a baseline for future coordinated MioMIP efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023PA004726
Number of pages29
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Issue number1
Early online date29 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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