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Comparison of climate model results with European vegetation and permafrost during oxygen isotope stage three

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Mary Jo Alfano*
American Geological Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302, USA
Eric J. Barron
EMS Environment Institute, 2217 Earth-Engineering Sciences Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
David Pollard
EMS Environment Institute, 2217 Earth-Engineering Sciences Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Brian Huntley
Environmental Research Centre, University of Durham, Department of Biological Sciences, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
Judy R. M. Allen
Environmental Research Centre, University of Durham, Department of Biological Sciences, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
*Corresponding author. Fax: +1-703-379-7563. E-mail address: (M.J. Alfano).


Oxygen isotope stage 3 (OIS3), an interstade between approximately 60,000 and 25,000 yr B.P., presents an ideal opportunity to compare high-resolution climate simulations with the geologic record. To facilitate this comparison, the results of a mesoscale climate model (RegCM2) embedded in the GENESIS GCM are utilized to drive a vegetation model (BIOME 3.5). The BIOME output is then compared with OIS3 compilations derived from pollen. The simulated biomes agree well with the pollen-based biomes in southern Europe; however, disagreements occur in the northern part of the domain. The most striking mismatch involves the distribution of tundra. The models fail to have tundra extend to its observed position as far south as 50°N in central Europe during OIS3. The model also fails to have permafrost extend southward to its observed position between 50°N and 55°N in western Europe during OIS3. A variety of sensitivity experiments are performed to investigate these mismatches. These experiments demonstrate the importance of annual and summer temperatures and the length of the winter season in creating improved matches between the model results and the inferred distributions of vegetation and permafrost in northern Europe.

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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