EGU21-8661, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Comparison of isotopic signatures in ice core and speleothem records to an isotope enabled climate model simulation for the last millennium

Yannick Heiser1, Janica Bühler1, Mathieu Casado1,2, and Kira Rehfeld1
Yannick Heiser et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institut Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany

Stable water isotope ratios (δ18O) measured in e.g. ice-cores or speleothems have long been established as temperature proxies and are used to reconstruct past climate variability but still require more quantification on spatial and temporal scales. The high resolution ice-core archives are mainly found in polar and alpine regions, whereas the speleothem records mostly grow in caves in low to mid-latitudes. To bridge between the archives, models are needed to compare the climate variability stored in both ice-cores and speleothems, which will help to evaluate future projections of climate variability.

Here, we compare a transient isotope enabled simulation from the Hadley Center Climate Model version 3 (iHadCM3) [1, 2] to polar ice-core records from the iso2k database [3] for the last millennium (LM, 850-1850 CE). We analyze time-averaged isotope ratios and their variability on decadal to centennial timescales to systematically evaluate the offsets and correlation patterns between simulated and recorded isotopes to specific climatic drivers. For better comparability between speleothem and ice core-archives, we also include non-polar ice core records, as well as monitored precipitation δ18O from a global database.

We find the time-averaged δ18O offsets between the simulation and ice-core records to be fairly small for most of the polar ice-core sites, indicating a low simulation climate offset.
As expected, we find the simulated δ18O variability to be higher in the polar regions of ice-core locations, compared to the simulated variability at speleothem cave locations. Recorded δ18O variability is also generally higher as stored in ice-cores, compared to that stored in speleothems. Both speleothems and ice-core records show damping effects on decadal time scales, which can in part be attributed to the temporal resolution of the individual records. This comparison of different proxy archives to isotope-enabled GCM output shows a promising way to evaluate the model’s capability to resolve δ18O variability.

[1]  Bühler, J. C. et al. Comparison of the oxygen isotope signatures in speleothem records and iHadCM3 model simulations for the last millennium. Climate of the Past: Discussions 1–30 (2020).

[2]  Tindall, J. C., Valdes, P. J. & Sime, L. C. Stable water isotopes in HadCM3: Isotopic signature of El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the tropical amount effect. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres 114, 1–12 (2009).

[3] Konecky, B. L. et al. The Iso2k database: A global compilation of paleo-δ18O and δ2H records to aid understanding of Common Era climate. Earth System Science Data 12, 2261–2288 (2020).

How to cite: Heiser, Y., Bühler, J., Casado, M., and Rehfeld, K.: Comparison of isotopic signatures in ice core and speleothem records to an isotope enabled climate model simulation for the last millennium, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8661,, 2021.

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