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MioMeet 2019

The Miocene is the future: Studying past climate change to better predict the future

1st International conference on Miocene climate change research

Stockholm, 3–5 June, 2019

Swedish Museum of Natural History

Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University

Diagram som visar miocene.

Figure 1. A: Temperature (upper panel) and CO2 (lower panel) reconstructions for the Cenozoic (after Beerling and Royer, 2011). The figure shows that CO2 was mostly ~400-500 ppm, while temperature was up to 7°C warmer during the Miocene. B: Earth’s continental configuration during the mid Miocene. Palaeogeographic reconstruction by Dr. Ron Blakley. C: A herd of Miocene horses racing across newly open grassland (image: Wikimedia Commons).

During the Cenozoic, the past 66 million years of Earth’s history, the climate system has changed mode from ‘greenhouse’ to ‘icehouse’ mode, with permanent bi-polar glaciation. Superimposed on this long-term cooling are a series of transient warm periods, or climatic optima, where temperatures returned to significantly warmer conditions.

The Miocene, ~23-5 million years ago (Ma) was a significant time period of overall warm global climate, relative to today. Importantly, during this time the continents moved very close to their modern positions, and flora and fauna evolved into the species that exist today. The expansion of grasslands is commonly correlated to a general drying of continental interiors, while the global climate first warmed and then cooled.

The Miocene was a time of extremes, including transient significant periods of glaciation surrounding a return to strong greenhouse climate conditions in the mid Miocene (~17–14.5 Ma), a time interval called the mid Miocene climatic optimum —the MMCO— which has been identified as a particularly appropriate analogue for the future greenhouse climate we are racing towards, in the event that goals to reduce CO2 emissions are not met.

Greenhouse periods in the geological past, such as the Miocene, provide unique perspectives on the response of Earth systems to elevated CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. During the Miocene, CO2 is reconstructed to have dropped from earlier Cenozoic values of ~500–800 ppm to ~ 450–500 ppm—i.e. in the near-modern range.

Yet, climate was anomalously warm and large climate swings correlated with small changes in CO2. This phenomenon has been difficult to reconcile with climate models and implies either missing positive feedbacks in the models (the same models used to simulate future climate), or a lack of knowledge of past climate forcings, which might mitigate the model-data discrepancy.

Jordklotet

Figure 2. Left: Modelling the MMCO climate - Map of differences between new and old models, showing polar amplification captured by newer models (Goldner et al., 2014). Right: Nasa 2014 Temperature anomaly map, showing Miocene-like polar amplification in the Arctic. Models still tend to hugely overestimate temperature in the tropics, even when they produce realistic polar condictions.

The specific goals of the conference is to focus on the following initiatives:

  • Identify the main unanswered questions and knowledge gaps in Miocene climate research
  • Devote time to structured discussions focused on these outstanding questions
  • Foster active communication and collaboration between researchers in the new Miocene community with different background, expertise and insights
  • Publish a special issue on the state-of-the-art of Miocene climate research
  • Initiate MioMIP – the Miocene Modelling Intercomparison Project

Program

A preliminary schedule is available here: MioMeet 2019 conference scheduleexternal link, opens in new window

Logistics

The bulk of the meeting will take place at the Geo Science Building (Geohuset), Stockholm University, 3–5 June 2019, 9 am – 5:30 pm (three full days), with scientific and social activities planned on the evenings of the first two days.

How to get here: Travelling from the city centre (T-centralen underground train station), take the red line nr. 14, going towards ’Mörby Centrum’. Exit at stop ’Universitetet’ and walk straight towards the green buildings slightly to the left.

If travelling from elsewhere, please see here for alternative routes and mapsexternal link, opens in new window

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Ann Holbourn, Christian Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany
  • Caroline Lear, Cardiff University, UK
  • Caroline Strömberg, Washington State University, USA
  • Dan Lunt, University of Bristol, UK
  • Francesca Sangiorgi, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • Gerrit Lohman, University of Bremen, Germany
  • Matthew Huber, Purdue University, USA
  • Matthew Kohn, Boise State University, USA
  • Paul Pearson, Cardiff University, UK
  • Yannick Donnadieu, CNRS, Paris, France

Scientific committee:

Dr. Margret Steinthorsdottir, NRM, Sweden

Dr. Agatha DeBoer, Stockholm University, Sweden

Dr. Helen Coxall, Stockholm University, Sweden

Prof. Matthew Huber, Purdue University, USA

More information to come

More information about the program, abstract submission, registration and fees will be added shortly.