High-resolution modelling of mid-Holocene New Zealand climate at 6000 yr BP


Palaeoclimate-proxy data provide an invaluable source of evidence for past climatic conditions, which can be compared with data from climate model simulations. This study illustrates how high-resolution regional climate model simulations can be used to estimate the difference in the climate of New Zealand between 6000 years before present (yr BP) and the pre-industrial era (c. ad 1750). Four pairs (pre-industrial and 6000 yr BP) of atmosphere-only global and regional climate model simulations were run with prescribed sea surface temperatures (SST). The SSTs are derived from four different fully coupled ocean–atmosphere general circulation model simulations, resulting in a different lower-boundary forcing in each of the atmosphere-only simulations. We find evidence for generally cooler conditions and for wetter (drier) conditions over eastern (western) New Zealand 6000 yr BP. The work compares well with model and proxy estimates of temperature and precipitation in the New Zealand region between 7000 and 6000 yr BP. The results also highlight the added value of regional model studies in regions with such complex terrain as New Zealand. This study also shows the limitations of applying uniformitarian principles when downscaling global model fields (and ‘up-scaling’ palaeo-proxy data) to infer past climatic conditions.
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