Sea-ice-free Arctic during the Last Interglacial supports fast future loss

Change log

The Last Interglacial (LIG), a warmer period 130-116 ka before present, is a potential analog for future climate change. Stronger LIG summertime insolation at high northern latitudes drove Arctic land summer temperatures 4-5 °C higher than the preindustrial era. Climate model simulations have previously failed to capture these elevated temperatures, possibly because they were unable to correctly capture LIG sea-ice changes. Here, we show the latest version of the fully-coupled UK Hadley Center climate model (HadGEM3) simulates a more accurate Arctic LIG climate, including elevated temperatures. Improved model physics, including a sophisticated sea-ice melt-pond scheme, result in a complete simulated loss of Arctic sea ice in summer during the LIG, which has yet to be simulated in past generations of models. This ice-free Arctic yields a compelling solution to the longstanding puzzle of what drove LIG Arctic warmth and supports a fast retreat of future Arctic summer sea ice.

37 Earth Sciences, 3709 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience, 3705 Geology, 13 Climate Action
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Nature Climate Change
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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
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Royal Society (RP\R\180003)