Last glacial maximum constraints on the Earth System model HadGEM2-ES

Peter O. Hopcroft*, Paul J. Valdes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
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We investigate the response of the atmospheric and land surface components of the CMIP5/AR5 Earth System model HadGEM2-ES to pre-industrial (PI: AD 1860) and last glacial maximum (LGM: 21 kyr) boundary conditions. HadGEM2-ES comprises atmosphere, ocean and sea-ice components which are interactively coupled to representations of the carbon cycle, aerosols including mineral dust and tropospheric chemistry. In this study, we focus on the atmosphere-only model HadGEM2-A coupled to terrestrial carbon cycle and aerosol models. This configuration is forced with monthly sea surface temperature and sea-ice fields from equivalent coupled simulations with an older version of the Hadley Centre model, HadCM3. HadGEM2-A simulates extreme cooling over northern continents and nearly complete die back of vegetation in Asia, giving a poor representation of the LGM environment compared with reconstructions of surface temperatures and biome distributions. The model also performs significantly worse for the LGM in comparison with its precursor AR4 model HadCM3M2. Detailed analysis shows that the major factor behind the vegetation die off in HadGEM2-A is a subtle change to the temperature dependence of leaf mortality within the phenology model of HadGEM2. This impacts on both snow-vegetation albedo and vegetation dynamics. A new set of parameters is tested for both the pre-industrial and LGM, showing much improved coverage of vegetation in both time periods, including an improved representation of the needle-leaf forest coverage in Siberia for the pre-industrial. The new parameters and the resulting changes in global vegetation distribution strongly impact the simulated loading of mineral dust, an important aerosol for the LGM. The climate response in an abrupt 4× pre-industrial CO2 simulation is also analysed and shows modest regional impacts on surface temperatures across the Boreal zone.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • LGM
  • Land surface feedbacks
  • Palaeoclimate sensitivity


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