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The Sellwood Group for Palaeo-Climatology

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Dowsett, H.J., Robinson, M.M., Haywood, A.M., Hill, D.J., Dolan, A.M., Stoll, D.K., Chan, W.-L., Abe-Ouchi, A., Chandler, M.A., Rosenbloom, N.A., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., Bragg, F.J., Lunt, D.J., Foley, K.M., and Riesselman, C.R., 2012. Assessing confidence in Pliocene sea surface temperatures to evaluate predictive models, Nature Climate Change, Published online 18 MARCH 2012, DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1455.

Dowsett, H.J., Haywood, A.M., Valdes, P.J., Robinson, M.M., Lunt, D.J., Hill, D.J., Stoll, D.K., and Foley, K.M., 2011. Sea surface temperatures of the mid-Piacenzian warm period: A comparison of PRISM3 and HadCM3. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 309: 83-91.

Robinson, M.M., 2011. Pliocene Climate Lessons. American Scientist 99: 228-235.

Dowsett, H., Robinson, M., Haywood, A., Salzmann, U., Hill, D., Sohl, L., Chandler, M., Williams, M., Foley, K. and Stoll, D., 2010. The PRISM3D Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction. Stratigraphy, 7: 123-140.

PRISM3D: Global Warming Analysis

The PRISM3D reconstruction is a high-resolution, multi-faceted description of the mid Pliocene, which is the most recent warm period similar to what is expected in the coming century. The reconstruction has been used to ground-truth model simulations of mid-Pliocene climate and evaluate model capabilities to simulate climate conditions much different than today. PRISM3D is the most detailed global reconstruction of climate and environmental conditions older than the last glacial maximum (18-21 ka). It includes a new deep ocean temperature reconstruction, an expanded and refined sea surface temperature field, and revised and updated vegetation, topography, land ice and sea ice data sets. PRISM researchers collaborate with multiple modeling groups to explore Pliocene climate and improve our understanding of the climate system and possible future climate conditions. Future research will focus on regional climate dynamics with emphasis on processes, multiple environmental proxies, and a shorter time interval within the mid Pliocene.

Why is this research important?

Over the course of geologic history, global temperatures have changed in response to a multitude of climate forcings. Estimates of global warming during the mid-Piacenzian Age of the Pliocene Epoch (3.264 - 3.025 Ma) suggest that temperatures were up to 2C greater than today. This level of warming is within the range of IPCC estimates of global temperature increases for the 21st century, and no other time period in the past three million years approaches this level of warming. Although scientists have identified the primary forcing mechanisms that contribute to global warming, there is uncertainty about the relative impact of each forcing and associated feedbacks. Reconstructions of SST and other paleoenvironmental parameters provide a synoptic view of the Earth during an interval considerably warmer than modern, enhancing abilities to model the response of the Earth system to episodes of warming.

Principal Investigator: Harry Dowsett

Project Team: Marci Robinson, Christina Riesselman, Kevin Foley, Danielle Stoll, Stephanie Strother, Kristy Mickulesku, Jodi Deprizio, Naseem Naghdi

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