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Precession‐ and obliquity‐induced changes in moisture sources for enhanced precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea

Precession‐ and obliquity‐induced changes in moisture sources for enhanced precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea
Precession‐ and obliquity‐induced changes in moisture sources for enhanced precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea
Enhanced winter precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea at times of minimum precession and maximum obliquity, that is, times of enhanced insolation seasonality, could provide freshwater required to form orbitally paced sedimentary cycles across the Mediterranean, offering a possible alternative to monsoonal runoff. We investigate the sources of the enhanced winter precipitation, by applying a moisture tracking model on the results of idealized orbital extreme experiments with a state‐of‐the‐art climate model. Precession and obliquity enhance precipitation in fall and winter. Our study shows that the source of enhanced precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea differs during the winter half‐year. In fall, the majority of the precession‐induced precipitation increase originates from the Mediterranean itself. However, in late winter, the increase can be attributed to enhanced moisture advection from the Atlantic. This agrees with changes in evaporation and air‐sea temperature differences over the Mediterranean. The obliquity‐induced precipitation increase shows much less differences, with an equal contribution of local and Atlantic sources. The mechanism behind the Atlantic source of moisture, particularly important in late winter for precession‐induced precipitation changes, is related to a weakened Azores High and slightly higher surface pressure over North Africa. The resulting anomalous circulation patterns generate enhanced Atlantic moisture transport toward the Mediterranean. These mechanisms coincide with weaker storm track activity over the North Atlantic, opposite to previous studies that often attribute enhanced Mediterranean winter precipitation to a southward shift and intensification of the Atlantic storm track. We thus provide an alternative mechanism for Atlantic sources of orbitally paced Mediterranean precipitation changes.
2572-4517
Bosmans, J.H.C.
20249d98-78a4-49c4-9bc0-880cecef0662
van der Ent, R.J.
aae21837-06ed-4cc9-a7ae-b6192978be48
Haarsma, R.J.
a46861ed-ae95-49cc-b395-e7126fa703a8
Drijfhout, S.S.
a5c76079-179b-490c-93fe-fc0391aacf13
Hilgen, F.J.
afa55c8c-67ff-47c9-b1c7-d1f50cc2e253
Bosmans, J.H.C.
20249d98-78a4-49c4-9bc0-880cecef0662
van der Ent, R.J.
aae21837-06ed-4cc9-a7ae-b6192978be48
Haarsma, R.J.
a46861ed-ae95-49cc-b395-e7126fa703a8
Drijfhout, S.S.
a5c76079-179b-490c-93fe-fc0391aacf13
Hilgen, F.J.
afa55c8c-67ff-47c9-b1c7-d1f50cc2e253

Bosmans, J.H.C., van der Ent, R.J., Haarsma, R.J., Drijfhout, S.S. and Hilgen, F.J. (2020) Precession‐ and obliquity‐induced changes in moisture sources for enhanced precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 35 (1). (doi:10.1029/2019PA003655).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Enhanced winter precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea at times of minimum precession and maximum obliquity, that is, times of enhanced insolation seasonality, could provide freshwater required to form orbitally paced sedimentary cycles across the Mediterranean, offering a possible alternative to monsoonal runoff. We investigate the sources of the enhanced winter precipitation, by applying a moisture tracking model on the results of idealized orbital extreme experiments with a state‐of‐the‐art climate model. Precession and obliquity enhance precipitation in fall and winter. Our study shows that the source of enhanced precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea differs during the winter half‐year. In fall, the majority of the precession‐induced precipitation increase originates from the Mediterranean itself. However, in late winter, the increase can be attributed to enhanced moisture advection from the Atlantic. This agrees with changes in evaporation and air‐sea temperature differences over the Mediterranean. The obliquity‐induced precipitation increase shows much less differences, with an equal contribution of local and Atlantic sources. The mechanism behind the Atlantic source of moisture, particularly important in late winter for precession‐induced precipitation changes, is related to a weakened Azores High and slightly higher surface pressure over North Africa. The resulting anomalous circulation patterns generate enhanced Atlantic moisture transport toward the Mediterranean. These mechanisms coincide with weaker storm track activity over the North Atlantic, opposite to previous studies that often attribute enhanced Mediterranean winter precipitation to a southward shift and intensification of the Atlantic storm track. We thus provide an alternative mechanism for Atlantic sources of orbitally paced Mediterranean precipitation changes.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 9 January 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 21 January 2020
Published date: January 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 439774
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/439774
ISSN: 2572-4517
PURE UUID: 8aab68b8-0ad2-4a55-b2ab-ec7ae75c515f

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Date deposited: 01 May 2020 16:40
Last modified: 06 Oct 2020 17:54

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