How well do simulated last glacial maximum tropical temperatures constrain equilibrium climate sensitivity?

Peter O. Hopcroft*, Paul J. Valdes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Previous work demonstrated a significant correlation between tropical surface air temperature and equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) in PMIP (Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project) phase 2 model simulations of the last glacial maximum (LGM). This implies that reconstructed LGM cooling in this region could provide information about the climate system ECS value. We analyze results from new simulations of the LGM performed as part of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) and PMIP phase 3. These results show no consistent relationship between the LGM tropical cooling and ECS. A radiative forcing and feedback analysis shows that a number of factors are responsible for this decoupling, some of which are related to vegetation and aerosol feedbacks. While several of the processes identified are LGM specific and do not impact on elevated CO2 simulations, this analysis demonstrates one area where the newer CMIP5 models behave in a qualitatively different manner compared with the older ensemble. The results imply that so-called Earth System components such as vegetation and aerosols can have a significant impact on the climate response in LGM simulations, and this should be taken into account in future analyses. Key Points New LGM simulations show no tropical temperature to climate sensitivity relation This is caused by a model complexity, especially due to Earth System components It is unclear how inferred ECS will change as more model components are included.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5533-5539
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2015


  • cloud radiative effects
  • CMIP5
  • Earth System
  • feedbacks
  • LGM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'How well do simulated last glacial maximum tropical temperatures constrain equilibrium climate sensitivity?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this