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Past terrestrial hydroclimate sensitivity controlled by Earth system feedbacks

Abstract : Despite tectonic conditions and atmospheric CO 2 levels (pCO 2) similar to those of presentday, geological reconstructions from the mid-Pliocene (3.3-3.0 Ma) document high lake levels in the Sahel and mesic conditions in subtropical Eurasia, suggesting drastic reorganizations of subtropical terrestrial hydroclimate during this interval. Here, using a compilation of proxy data and multi-model paleoclimate simulations, we show that the mid-Pliocene hydroclimate state is not driven by direct CO 2 radiative forcing but by a loss of northern highlatitude ice sheets and continental greening. These ice sheet and vegetation changes are long-term Earth system feedbacks to elevated pCO 2. Further, the moist conditions in the Sahel and subtropical Eurasia during the mid-Pliocene are a product of enhanced tropospheric humidity and a stationary wave response to the surface warming pattern, which varies strongly with land cover changes. These findings highlight the potential for amplified terrestrial hydroclimate responses over long timescales to a sustained CO 2 forcing.
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Submitted on : Saturday, March 26, 2022 - 11:33:05 AM
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Ran Feng, Tripti Bhattacharya, Bette Otto-Bliesner, Esther Brady, Alan Haywood, et al.. Past terrestrial hydroclimate sensitivity controlled by Earth system feedbacks. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2022, 13 (1), pp.1306. ⟨10.1038/s41467-022-28814-7⟩. ⟨hal-03620581⟩



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