Impact of precipitation seasonality changes on isotopic signals in polar ice cores: a multi-model analysis
For Central Greenland, water isotope analysis indicates a temperature difference of about 10°C since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). However, borehole thermometry and gas diffusion thermometry indicate that LGM surface temperatures were about 20°C colder than today. Two general circulation model studies have shown that changes in the seasonal precipitation timing in Central Greenland might have caused a warm bias in the LGM water isotope proxy temperatures, and that this bias could explain the difference in the estimated paleotemperatures. Here we present an analysis of a number of atmospheric general circulation model simulations mostly done within the framework of the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project. The models suggest that the seasonal cycle of precipitation and surface mass balance over Central Greenland at the LGM might have been very different from today. This supports the idea that the accuracy of the water isotope thermometry at the LGM in Greenland might be compromised as a result of a modified surface mass balance seasonality. However, the models disagree on the amplitude and sign of the bias. For Central East Antarctica, a strong seasonality effect on the LGM isotopic signal is not simulated by any of the analyzed models. For the mid-Holocene (6 kyr BP) the models suggest relatively weak isotope paleothermometry biases linked to changes in the surface mass balance seasonality over both ice sheets.