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Causes of model–data discrepancies in European climate during oxygen isotope stage 3 with insights from the last glacial maximum

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

David Pollard*
EMS Environment Institute, 2217 Earth-Engineering Sciences Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Eric J. Barron
EMS Environment Institute, 2217 Earth-Engineering Sciences Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
*Corresponding author. Fax: +1-814-865-3191. E-mail address: (D. Pollard).


Oxygen isotope stage 3 (OIS 3), encompassing the long middle section of the last glacial interval, has been the focus of an intensive high-resolution climate modeling effort for Europe. These model simulations produce substantially colder climates than modern simulations; however, the temperatures appear warmer than many proxy indicators suggest. In order to evaluate the importance of the model boundary conditions, comparable simulations are completed for the last glacial maximum (LGM). The LGM simulation produces a much colder European continent than OIS 3, despite similarities in the specification of sea-surface temperatures (SSTs). Ice-sheet dimension is evidently a key factor in explaining the difference in European climates over the past 40,000 yr. However, underestimates in specified OIS 3 ice sheets cannot be invoked to explain the discrepancies, since data strongly indicate small ice-sheet extents at that time; this leaves errors in specified OIS 3 SSTs as the most likely cause.

Elsevier Science (USA)

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This contribution is one of a series of articles reporting the results of the Stage 3 project (van Andel, 2002). See the Stage 3 website for details and databases at


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