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Climate in Sweden during the past Millennium - Evidence from proxy data, instrumental data and model simulations

Report
Authors Anders Moberg
Isabelle Gouriand
Kristian Schonning
Barbara Wolfarth
Erik Kjellström
Rixt de Jong
Hans W. Linderholm
Eduardo Zorita
Publisher SKB
Place of publication Stockholm
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Language en
Links www.skb.se
Keywords Climate change, Millennium, Sweden
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Knowledge about climatic variations is essential for SKB in its safety assessments of a geological repository for spent nuclear waste. There is therefore a need for information about possible future climatic variations under a range of possible climatic states. However, predictions of future climate in any deterministic sense are still beyond our reach. We can, nevertheless, try to estimate the magnitude of future climate variability and change due to natural forcing factors, by means of inferences drawn from natural climate variability in the past. Indeed, the climate of the future will be shaped by the sum of natural and anthropogenic climate forcing, as well as the internal climate variability. The aim here is to review and analyse the knowledge about Swedish climate variability, essentially during the past millennium. Available climate proxy data and long instrumental records provide empirical information on past climatic changes. We also demonstrate how climate modelling can be used to extend such knowledge. We use output from a global climate model driven with reconstructed radiative forcings (solar, volcanic and greenhouse gas forcing), to provide boundary conditions for a regional climate model. The regional model provides more details of the climate than the global model, and we develop a simulated climate history for Sweden that is complete in time and space and physically consistent. We use output from a regional model simulation for long periods in the last millennium, to study annual mean temperature, precipitation and runoff for the northern and southern parts of Sweden. The simulated data are used to place corresponding instrumental records for the 20th century into a plausible historical perspective. We also use output from the regional model to study how the frequency distribution of the daily temperature, precipitation, runoff and evaporation at Forsmark and Oskarshamn could have varied between unusually warm and cold 30-year periods during the last millennium. Models, however, cannot be used to deduce the exact time evolution of climate variations, but they can provide relevant information in a statistical sense, for example by defining the limits within which climate naturally has varied. Uncertainties – and also advantages – of both empirical climate data and model simulations are discussed. A main conclusion is that there have been both relatively warm and cold past periods, as well as some relatively wet and dry periods during the past 1,000 to 2,000 years. It appears that the last 70-year period in Sweden was the warmest period over at least the last 500 years. Exactly how unusual the past few decades were can, however, not yet be established due to limitations of the proxy data. There are also indications that significant past changes in precipitation, river runoff and storminess have occurred, although available proxy data do not yet allow accurate quantitative estimations. The results of the present report will be used by SKB, along with other information, in the process of defining and describing future climate scenarios. They will also be used in evaluating the impact of climate on various processes related to repository safety, for example biosphere processes. To increase knowledge of past climate variations in Sweden for the last millennium, it seems necessary to develop additional climate proxy records with annual or at least decadal resolution. Long simulations with climate models may also be used in this context.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012
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