Community effort to reconstruct the Pliocene

The aim of the workshop is to facilitate a community effort to reconstruct key climatic parameters (temperature, CO2, ice, sea level, vegetation) in selected time intervals within the Pliocene epoch to provide a global representation of Pliocene climate and facilitate data modeling comparisons.

The Pliocene has often been proposed as an analogue for future climate conditions. However, despite relatively small differences in climate control factors, including atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the Pliocene climate was markedly different from modern. This has thus made the Pliocene a relevant climate interval to validate climate models, which requires, however, confidence in the paleoestimates to be able to ascertain confidently model strengths and weaknesses. In addition, as it is scientifically and technically not possible at present to reconstruct a continuous record in space and time of past climate variations spanning the entire Pliocene, discrete and distinct time intervals are needed to focus research efforts of the scientific community.

A first pioneering effort was undertaken by PRISM (Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping group) through the reconstruction of sea surface temperatures (SST) and vegetation in a time slab spanning 3.3 to 3.0 Ma, before the intensification of large-scale Northern Hemisphere glaciation.

The workshop will quick start a new concerted effort of the international community to go a step further than PRISM in order to reduce current uncertainties on Pliocene climate. Following on from the model set by initiatives such as CLIMAP (Climate long-range investigation, mapping, and prediction) and MARGO (Multiproxy approach for the reconstruction of the glacial ocean surface), our aim is to bring together leading experts and younger scientists studying Pliocene climate to:

1. Provide consensus agreements on priority time slices to focus research efforts.
2. Appraise performance of available proxies on temperature (marine and continental) and CO2.
3. Compile all the available information on the cryosphere, sea level and vegetation
4. Collate and harmonise all the available proxy data and place them into a common framework for a multi-proxy climate reconstruction
5. Undertake data-modeling comparisons to ascertain strengths and weaknesses of models to incorporate on future assessments of the IPCC

The workshop objective is to create a working group and initiate an open international project involving data gathering, sharing and harmonisation, with the aim of producing a new Pliocene synthesis. This effort would take place in close collaboration with the paleomodeling community collaborating in the PlioMIP project, representatives of which would attend the workshop.

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