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[This report is preliminary and has not been reviewed for conformity with U.S. Geological Survey editorial standards (or with the North American Stratigraphic Code). Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.]
The PRISM Project had two primary goals. The first was to identify and characterize the nature and variability of climate during this time of past global warming as an indication of how the Earth might respond to future warming. The second goal was to develop a series of global scale, quantitative datasets for use in experiments to model climate and environmental conditions during the mid Pliocene. The Pliocene reconstruction is being used to test the ability of climate models to simulate past warmer conditions on earth and to provide insights into the mechanisms and effects of global warming (Dowsett et al., 1992; Chandler et, al., 1994; Sloan et al., 1996; Haywood et al., 1999).
The purpose of this report is to document and explain the PRISM2 mid Pliocene reconstruction. The PRISM2 reconstruction consists of a series of 28 global scale data sets (Table 1) on a 2° latitude by 2° longitude grid. As such, it is the most complete and detailed global reconstruction of climate and environmental conditions older than the last glacial.
PRISM2 evolved from a series of studies that summarized conditions at a large number of marine and terrestrial sites and areas (eg. Cronin and Dowsett, 1991; Poore and Sloan, 1996). The first global reconstruction of mid Pliocene climate (PRISM1) was based upon 64 marine sites and 74 terrestrial sites and included data sets representing annual vegetation and land ice, monthly sea surface temperature (SST) and sea-ice, sea level and topography on a 2°x2° grid (Dowsett et al. (1996) and Thompson and Fleming (1996)). The current reconstruction (PRISM2) is a revision of PRISM1 that incorporates several important differences:
1) Additional sites were added to the marine portion of the reconstruction to improve previous coverage. Sites from the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean are incorporated for the first time in PRISM2.
2) All Pliocene sea surface temperature (SST) estimates were recalculated based upon a new core top calibration to the Reynolds and Smith (1995) adjusted optimum interpolation (AOI) SST data set. This reduced some of the problems previously encountered when different fossil groups were calibrated to different modern climatologies (Climate / Long Range Investigation Mapping and Predictions [CLIMAP], Goddard Institute for Space Sciences [GISS], Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer [AVHRR], etc.).
3) PRISM2 uses a +25m rise in sea level for the Pliocene (PRISM1 used +35m), in keeping with much new data that has become available.
4) Although the change in global ice volume between PRISM1 and PRISM2 is minor, PRISM2 uses model results from Prentice (personal communication) to guide the areal and topographic distribution of Antarctic ice. This results in a more realistic Antarctic ice configuration in tune with the +25m sea level rise.
All data sets are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Figure 1. PRISM2 time slab correlated to the geomagnetic polarity time scale of Berggren et al. (1995) and the benthic oxygen isotope record from ODP Site 846 (Schackleton et al., 1995). Numbers in parenthesis adjacent to magnetic polarity indicate ages of subchron boundaries according to Berggren et al. (1985). Modern isotopic value from Schackleton et al. (1995) shown as vertical dashed line.
While the interval of time between 3.29 and 2.97 Ma (PRISM time slab) is distinct in that mean conditions were different than the intervals immediately surrounding it, there is a high degree of variability within the time slab (Dowsett and Poore, 1991; Barron, 1992a; Hodell and Venz, 1992; Shackleton et al., 1995) (Figure 1). Other than glacial stages KM2 (ca. 3.12 Ma) and G20 (ca. 3.01 Ma), benthic foraminiferal oxygen isotope values were either equal to or isotopically lighter than those of today (Shackleton and others, 1995). Nevetheless, as emphasized by Tiedemann and others (1994), the 41-kyr period of Earth廣 obliquity dominates the Pliocene climate record. For marine data points that were generated from time series studies, we have adopted a strategy whereby we develop an estimate of mean "interglacial" conditions within the time slab. This minimizes the problems associated with point to point correlation between data sites separated by large geographic distances. The late Pleistocene analog would be to provide a single SST value representing average winter and summer interglacial conditions at each site (e.g., average SST of isotope stages 5, 7 and 9).
The 3.29 to 2.97 Ma interval is long enough to be reliably identified and correlated between marine sequences independent of climatic characteristics because of its proximity to a number of biostratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic events (Berggren et al., 1985; 1995; Dowsett, 1989a,b). Deep sea records and, to varying degrees, ocean margin records, can be correlated with some confidence to this interval. Many of our terrestrial records come from short sequences that rely on limited radiometric dates and magnetostratigraphy for chronology. The sparseness of long terrestrial time-series with multiple age control points makes identification of high frequency variability and integration of our terrestrial paleoclimate estimates into our time-slice interval less certain than our marine estimates. This is a problem with all terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions.
In the remainder of this report we use the terminology "3 Ma" and "middle Pliocene" to indicate our time interval.
3.1 Recalibration of SST estimates
A major change between this and the PRISM1 reconstruction is the recalibration of all modern marine data to the modern SST of Reynolds and Smith (1995).
Analysis of the CLIMAP modern data set (see Prell, 1985) and the modern
SST data used by the Goddard Institute for Space Science (GISS) model showed
significant differences with anomalies sometimes exceeding the magnitude
of estimated Pliocene temperature change. Because of this and inter-group
calibration problems, we recalibrated all modern samples and all Pliocene
localities, using the 1°x1° SST of Reynolds and Smith (1995).
Foraminifer transfer functions GSF18 and GSF21 were recalibrated and their
resultant coefficients are reported in Dowsett and Verardo (in prep.).
All foraminifer, diatom and ostracode estimates of SST are now based upon
the same modern temperature field.
Figure 2A. Marine localities used in this study.
Click on figure for a high-quality version in a new window.
Middle Pliocene foraminifers were analyzed from 34 sites by a number of workers (Table 2). These sites are skewed toward the Atlantic (60%) but cover all major ocean basins. In many cases existing magnetobiostratigraphy was sufficient to create age models but in some instances new biostratigraphic analysis was employed to help scale the sequences. Sea-surface temperatures were estimated from these sites using factor analytic transfer functions, modern analog technique (MAT), or semiquantitative comparison to modern faunas (Dowsett and Poore, 1990, 1991; Dowsett, 1991; Dowsett et al., 1996; Dowsett and Robinson, 1998; Poore, 1999).
Middle Pliocene diatoms were counted by Barron (1995, 1996a, b) in 16 Southern Ocean and 6 North Pacific deep sea-cores. Age models for these cores were based on existing magnetostratigraphy and both published and refined diatom biostratigraphy (Barron, 1996a, b). Diatom based SST estimates for the Southern Ocean were determined by estimating the relative position of the Antarctic Polar Front (APF) relative to the various sites. North Pacific SST was estimated using equations generated by Barron (1995) based upon the relative ratios of key taxa.
Middle Pliocene ostracodes were counted from 12 sites in the Northern Hemisphere including Central America, the eastern United States coastal Plain, Tjornes, Iceland, Meighen Island, Alaskan Arctic coastal Plain, North Sea, and Japan. In each region age models were constructed using magnetobiochronology and shallow sea bottom temperatures were quantitatively estimated by transfer function, MAT, or environmental preference matching (Cronin and Dowsett, 1990; Cronin, 1991a,b; Wood et al., 1994).
3.5 Pollen and Plants
Information on middle Pliocene vegetation was compiled from fossil pollen
and plant macrofossil data from over 75 sites (Table
3, Figure 2B)
from all of the continents of the world (Thompson and Fleming, 1996).
Chronological controls for these sites were provided by a variety of methods,
including radiometric dating, tephrochronology, and biostratigraphy.
Quantitative estimates of past terrestrial climates are available from
very few sites, and thus most middle Pliocene paleoclimates on land are
expressed as qualitative estimates of changes in temperature and precipitation
relative to the present-day climates at the study sites.
Figure 2B. Terrestrial localities used in this study.
Click on figure for a high-quality version in a new window.
4.1 Land-Sea Distribution (Sea Level)
The initial PRISM 8x10 and PRISM1 2x2 reconstructions used a +35m
sea-level rise for determining land-sea elevations (Dowsett et al.,
1994; PRISM, 1995). For PRISM2 we have adopted a more conservative
+25m sea-level rise (Figure 3)
in keeping with the conclusions of Kennett and Hodell (1993). Based
upon estimates of the sea level rise equivalent of various ice masses,
a 25 m rise in sea level requires significant reduction of Greenland and
Antarctic ice volume.
Figure 3. Emergent land areas during the mid Pliocene plotted on a 2x2 grid.
Elevational data from the ETOPO5 five-minute topographic grid (Edwards,
1992) were used to
provide the basis for constructing a middle Pliocene land-sea distribution grid. In this process, we determined whether the elevation of each ETOPO5 point in a given 2° x 2° cell was below, at, or above the 25 m above present-day sea level. If the number of ETOPO5 points at or above the 25 m elevation exceeded those below that elevation, then the 2° x 2° was determined to be land during the middle Pliocene. If the number of ETOPO5 points below the +25 m sea level exceeded those at or above this elevation, then the 2° x 2° cell was declared to be covered by water.
The digital data for sea level are provided in Appendix 1, where "1" indicates land and "0" indicates water.
4.2 Sea Surface Temperatures
Table 2 lists 77 marine localities/sections that were used for our SST reconstructions. Included are the modern February and August SST廣 at the sites (data from Reynolds and Smith, 1995), estimated Pliocene SST廣 and the resulting anomalies (Pliocene minus Modern) of these estimates used in the PRISM2 and previous PRISM1 reconstructions. A reference is made to the source of the SST data, the method used (quantitative, semi-quantitative, qualitative) in making the estimates, the average temporal resolution and an indication as to whether or not the mid Pliocene section was constrained by magnetic stratigraphy. The distribution of control points for the reconstruction is uneven and primarily reflects the availability of suitable material for study. Details of the techniques are given in Dowsett and Poore (1991), Dowsett (1991), Cronin and Dowsett (1991), Dowsett and Robinson (1998). Barron (1996a,b), and Dowsett and Verardo (in prep). When available, estimates published by other workers were used to augment and cross check the estimates derived by the PRISM2 study.
Several new data points have been added since PRISM1. Estimates of Mediterranean SST were derived from planktic assemblages recovered on Sicily and Crete (Spaak, 1983). These assemblages, along with data from Thunnell (1979) suggest a positive deviation in temperatures during the mid Pliocene relative to today. Middle Pliocene samples from ODP Site 722 in the Indian Ocean were analysed and indicate a minor warming of +1 to +2°C. South Pacific estimates now include a sequence taken within the Wanganui Basin of New Zealand. While there is little evidence for paleotemperature change along the west coast of South America, the southwestern Pacific shows temperature anomalies of +2 to +3°C relative to today.
[A] Modern August SST - Modern Vegetation
[C] Pliocene August SST - Pliocene Vegetation
[B] Modern February SST - Modern Vegetation
[D] Pliocene February SST - Pliocene Vegetation
Figure 4. A,B Modern SST (after Reynolds and Smith, 1995) and vegetation (modified after Matthews, 1985). C,D Pliocene SST and vegetation. Sea ice distributions shown in gray; vegetation legend.
Click on maps to view high-quality versions in new windows.
Because we estimated winter and summer SST (February and August), we produced two primary Pliocene SST maps in this fashion (Figure 4). The remaining 10 months of the year were constructed by fitting a sine curve to the February and August SST estimates (Dowsett et al., 1996).
On Appendices 2.1 - 2.12, each cell in a 2°x2° global grid designated as water (see section 4.1) is given a SST in degrees Celsius. Cells designated land are given the code -999. Sea-ice is designated with SST set to -1.8°C.
4.3 Sea-Ice Distribution
Northern Hemisphere sea-ice distribution is unchanged from PRISM1 except for adjustments to accommodate the newer +25m sea level. (see Dowsett et al., 1996). Southern Hemisphere sea-ice is slightly modified from PRISM1 (Barron, 1996a,b). The PRISM2 August (peak winter) sea ice for the mid Pliocene has been arbitrarily placed at between 4 and 6° of latitude further to the south than the present day (Figure 4). To obtain a Pliocene winter sea ice coverage we started with the average summer sea ice coverage derived from the 14 year monthly sea-ice NOAA satellite data (Schweitzer, 1995). The modern average summer coverage was incorporated into a 2 x 2 degree matix and modified to fit the + 25 meter sea-land boundary and the Pliocene sea surface temperature projections discussed in the previous section (Figure 4).
The model experiments require a sea ice configuration for each of the twelve months of the year. In order to create 12 sets of sea-ice distribution we took the winter and summer end-member distributions for each polar area and then used the modern monthly average sea-ice data compiled in Schweitzer, (1995) and the PRISM2 Pliocene monthly sea surface temperature projections to guide modification of the winter and summer end- members into 12 monthly intervals of sea-ice coverage.
Twelve 2°x2° global grids are provided with estimated average monthly sea-ice distributions (Appendices 3.1 - 3.12). Sea ice is designated with "1", land with "8" and water without sea-ice as "0". Sea-ice can also be read off the SST fields where cells with SST set to -1.8°C are designated as sea-ice.
4.4 Land Ice Distribution
In the PRISM2 reconstruction, ice volume and areal coverage on Greenland was reduced by 50%. All other Northern Hemisphere ice (Iceland and mountain glaciers) were removed. The PRISM2 reconstruction uses model results from Prentice (personal communication) to guide the areal and topographic distribution of Antarctic ice. This results in a more realistic distribution of ice.
The areal distribution of ice can be read from Appendix 5 which designates vegetation and land cover categories for each cell in the 2°x2° global grid (see section 4.6).
4.5 Land Surface Topography
As discussed in Thompson and Fleming (1996), Pliocene elevations were apparently lower than present-day in the western Cordillera of western North America and in the Andes of South America (Figure 5). The reduction in the size of the Greenland and Antarctica Ice Sheets also resulted in a net reduction in elevation in those areas. On the other hand, data discussed in Thompson and Fleming (1996) suggest that the east African rift zone was elevationally higher than at present. Following these authors, we set Pliocene elevations in parts of North and South America at half of their modern values, and the elevation of portions of the Greenland Ice Sheet were reduced. The elevations of Antarctica were taken directly from Prentice (personal communication). The elevations of grid points in the east African rift zone were set at 500 m above those on the modern grid.
Figure 5. Pliocene topography. Contour Interval 500m.
Appendix 4 provides
elevation in meters above sea level for each cell in the 2°x2°
PRISM2 vegetation is identical to that in PRISM1 (see Thompson and Fleming,1996). We use seven land cover categories that are a simplification of the 22 land cover types of Matthews (1985). The distribution of vegetation or land cover categories can be found in Figure 4 and Appendix 5 where cells designated 0 = water, 1 = desert, 2= tundra, 3= grassland, 6= deciduous forest, 7= coniferous forest, 8= rainforest, and 9= land ice ( See Figure 4).
Important features of PRISM2 compared to modern are:
1. Greatly reduced continental ice volume with a small ice cap on Greenland being the only continental ice in the Northern Hemisphere.
2. Greatly reduced sea-ice with the Arctic being seasonally ice free.
3. Sea level change of + 25 meters which requires substantial reduction of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
4. Increased SST in high latitudes and unchanged SST in low latitudes. Warming is most pronounced in the northeastern North Atlantic sector.
5. Expansion of evergreen forests to the margins of the Arctic
Ocean, a reduction of desert area in equatorial Africa and essential
elimination of polar desert and tundra regions in the Northern Hemisphere.
A small amount of deciduous vegetation occurred at the edge of the Antarctic
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2x2 global grid showing ocean cells as "0", land cells as "1", and land cells covered by land ice as "9". Based upon a +25m sea level.
Appendices 2.1 - 2.12. PRISM2.SST
subdirectory contains 12 2x2 global grids with estimated average monthly pliocene sea surface temperatures. Sea ice is designated as -1.8 degrees C. Land cells are designated with -999.
Appendices 3.1 - 3.12.PRISM2.SEAICE
subdirectory contains 12 2x2 global grids with estimated average monthly pliocene sea ice distributions. Sea ice is designated as "1", land cells as '8' and water cells as '0.' This information can alternatively be extracted from the 12 SST grids descibed in Appendix 2.
Appendix 4. PRISM2.TOPO
2x2 global grid showing Pliocene topography in meters above sea level.
Appendix 5. PRISM2.VEG
2x2 global grid showing Pliocene vegetation cover using the following categories: 0-water, 1-desert, 2-tundra, 3-grassland, 6-deciduous forest, 7-coniferous forest, 8-rainforest, 9-land ice.
Appendices 6.1 - 6.7 MODERN.DATA
subdirectory contains assorted modern data including SST (6.1 & 6.2), vegetation (6.3), and topography (6.4). Other modern data can be derived from these appendices.
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