Climate of the LAst Millennium (CLAM): An Integrated Data-Model Approach to Reconstruct and Interpret Annual Variability in North Atlantic Circulation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

The ocean circulation of the North Atlantic is variable and pivotal in controlling regional and global climate. This variability occurs both naturally, and it is anticipated, in response to anthropogenic activity. Internal and forced natural variability in this system has so far largely been characterised in terrestrial archives and models rather than in the real ocean. It is critical that we understand the magnitude, timescale, drivers and impacts of this variability if we are to correctly attribute observed trends in the North Atlantic circulation, and develop robust early warning systems of, and plan adaptation to, future change. In CLAM we aim to utilise a network of robustly calibrated and verified absolutely dated sclerochronological proxy archives from NW Scotland, N. Iceland and the Gulf of Maine, together with high-resolution climate models, to investigate the mechanisms and forcings driving variability in the circulation patterns of the North Atlantic over the last millennium. This proposal is a resubmission (NE/M002160/1, Jan 2014, graded 8) in which we address minor concerns highlighted by the reviewers, notably we: (i) eliminate fieldwork risks - having completed all necessary sample collection using independent funding; (ii) further-demonstrate the powerful nature of the methodologies and potential findings though additional preliminary model-proxy analyses; (iii) greater societal impact via the development of a deeper collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre, and (iv) deliver improved value for money, through associated cost savings.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit, and how, from this research?
i) A major beneficiary of knowledge arising from this research is anticipated to be the climate modelling community who will be able to use our proxy-observations and model investigation to assess and improve the performance of models used for future climate prediction. Engaging effectively with this group is the main route for the proposed project to achieve societal impact.
ii) A review of the case for continuation of the RAPID 26.5N time series will take place in 2018. The proposed work will feed into this review by providing the first robust reconstruction of variability into which the recently observed change can be placed. Using this information it will be possible to begin asking over what timescale 26.5N observations may need to be made before robust trends can be identified.
iii) Other potential beneficiaries include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and policy makers who rely on climate model predictions to determine policy; our study provides constraints with which to test the ability of climate models, ultimately helping policy makers assess the reliability and performance of climate models. Our proposal has direct policy relevance for national and international climate change programmes, and will help provide society with the information it requires for managing the future global environment. Better understanding natural climate variability will be of use to other stakeholders (such as environmental organisations and private corporations) that make use of future predictions of climate change derived from global climate models for forward planning and strategy decisions over a range of timescales.
iv) The general public and student communities (at both secondary School and University levels) will benefit from this work by the provision of an increased understanding of the Earth's climate system.

To ensure that the outputs of CLAM both maintain a stakeholder focus, and are ultimately utilised to improve Met Office modelling capacity (and more widely), a series of workshops will be held by the Met Office to discuss techniques and findings.

Arguably, the main function of universities is to create new knowledge and to transmit this to the students and also to the general public. CLAM will take advantage of the existing exhibition infrastructure that was established by the Bangor group in 2010 for the Royal Societies 350th year Summer Science Exhibition at the South Bank Centre London. The exhibit was designed to facilitate the communication of biological aging and palaeoclimate research to audiences ranging from very young children through to Fellows of the Royal Society. CLAM seeks to work in collaboration with the National Museum Cardiff to utilise and enhance the existing infrastructure of the exhibit by updating its general content and modifying the displays enabling it to become an unmanned standalone museum exhibit. This entails the replacement of the microscope and digital imaging system with a touch screen interactive "virtual microscope" system that facilitates the user to visualise the growth lines present in a number of shells under various magnifications easily without the need of supervision. Additionally this resource would be made available through the CLAM website to supplement the already available interactive educational games.

CLAM will interact with the local schools and colleges through open days, Science Festivals and by conducting presentations and interactive learning sessions directly in the schools and colleges. These interactive learning sessions will take advantage of the online virtual microscope and interactive games allowing the students to examine the shell and proxy archives, construct their own sclerochronologies and investigate past climate change.
 
Description We find a previously unrecognised and large contribution of external forcing to Arctic sea-ice variability, and evidence for positive feedbacks reinforcing variability in sea-ice extent.
Exploitation Route ongoing
Sectors Environment

 
Description CLAM 
Organisation Bangor University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration on NERC research grant CLAM
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration on NERC research grant CLAM
Impact Two papers in preparation/review
Start Year 2015
 
Description CLAM 
Organisation Cardiff University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration on NERC research grant CLAM
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration on NERC research grant CLAM
Impact Two papers in preparation/review
Start Year 2015