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The sensitivity of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets to atmospheric forcing during the last glacial cycle using PMIP3 models



The evolution of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets through the last glacial cycle is simulated with the glacial index method by using the climate forcing from one General Circulation Model, COSMOS. By comparing the simulated results to geological reconstructions, we first show that the modelled climate is capable of capturing the main features of the ice-sheet evolution. However, large deviations exist, likely due to the absence of nonlinear interactions between ice sheet and other climate components. The model uncertainties of the climate forcing are examined using the output from nine climate models from the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project Phase III. The results show a large variability in simulated ice sheets between the different models. We find that the ice-sheet extent pattern resembles summer surface air temperature pattern at the Last Glacial Maximum, confirming the dominant role of surface ablation process for high-latitude Northern Hemisphere ice sheets. This study shows the importance of the upper boundary condition for ice-sheet modelling, and implies that careful constraints on climate output is essential for simulating realistic glacial Northern Hemisphere ice sheets.

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Correspondence: Lu Niu <>


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The sensitivity of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets to atmospheric forcing during the last glacial cycle using PMIP3 models



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