Modelling oxygen isotopes in the UVic Earth System Climate Model under preindustrial and Last Glacial Maximum conditions: impact of glacial-interglacial sea ice variability on seawater d18O

Date

2012-09-10

Authors

Brennan, Catherine Elizabeth

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Abstract

Implementing oxygen isotopes (H218O, H216O) in coupled climate models provides both an important test of the individual model's hydrological cycle, and a powerful tool to mechanistically explore past climate changes while producing results directly comparable to isotope proxy records. The addition of oxygen isotopes in the University of Victoria Earth System Climate Model (UVic ESCM) is described. Equilibrium simulations are performed for preindustrial and Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) conditions. The oxygen isotope content in the model's preindustrial climate is compared against observations for precipitation and seawater. The distribution of oxygen isotopes during the LGM is compared against available paleo-reconstructions. Records of temporal variability in the oxygen isotopic composition of biogenic carbonates from ocean sediment cores inform our understanding of past continental ice volume and ocean temperatures. Interpretation of biogenic carbonate d18O variability typically neglects changes due to factors other than ice volume and temperature, equivalent to assuming constant local seawater isotopic composition. This investigation focuses on whether sea ice, which fractionates seawater during its formation, could shift the isotopic value of seawater during distinct climates. Glacial and interglacial states are simulated with the isotope-enabled UVic ESCM, and a global analysis is performed. Results indicate that interglacial-glacial sea ice variability produces as much as a 0.13 permil shift in local seawater, which corresponds to a potential error in local paleotemperature reconstruction of approximately 0.5 C. Isotopic shifts due to sea ice variability are concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, specifically in the Labrador Sea and northeastern North Atlantic.

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Keywords

oxygen isotopes, sea ice, glacial, interglacial, preindustrial, Last Glacial Maximum

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