Long-Term Surface Temperature (LoST) Database as a Complement for GCM Preindustrial Simulations


Estimates of climate sensitivity from general circulation model (GCM) simulations still present a large spread despite the continued improvements in climate modeling since the 1970s. This variability is partially caused by the dependence of several long-term feedback mechanisms on the reference climate state. Indeed, state-of-the-art GCMs present a large spread of control climate states probably due to the lack of a suitable reference for constraining the climatology of preindustrial simulations. We assemble a new gridded database of long-term ground surface temperatures (LoST database) obtained from geothermal data over North America, and we explore its use as a potential reference for the evaluation of GCM preindustrial simulations. We compare the LoST database with observations from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) database, as well as with five past millennium transient climate simulations and five preindustrial control simulations from the third phase of the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP3) and the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The database is consistent with meteorological observations as well as with both types of preindustrial simulations, which suggests that LoST temperatures can be employed as a reference to narrow down the spread of surface temperature climatologies on GCM preindustrial control and past millennium simulations.

Climate of the Past