Mid-Holocene climate was characterized by strong summer solar heating that decreased Arctic sea ice cover. Motivated by recent studies identifying Arctic sea ice loss as a key driver of future climate change, we separate the influences of Arctic sea ice loss on mid-Holocene climate. By performing idealized climate model perturbation experiments, we show that Arctic sea ice loss causes zonally asymmetric surface temperature responses especially in winter: sea ice loss warms North America and the North Pacific, which would otherwise be much colder due to weaker winter insolation. In contrast, over East Asia, sea ice loss slightly decreases the temperature in early winter. These temperature responses are associated with the weakening of mid-high latitude westerlies and polar stratospheric warming. Sea ice loss also weakens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, although this weakening signal diminishes after 150-200 years of model integration. These results suggest that mid-Holocene climate changes should be interpreted in terms of both Arctic sea ice cover and insolation forcing.
The Holocene thermal maximum was characterized by strong summer solar heating that substantially increased the summertime temperature relative to preindustrial climate. However, the summer warming was compensated by weaker winter insolation, and the annual mean temperature of the Holocene thermal maximum remains ambiguous. Using multimodel mid-Holocene simulations, we show that the annual mean Northern Hemisphere temperature is strongly correlated with the degree of Arctic amplification and sea ice loss. Additional model experiments show that the summer Arctic sea ice loss persists into winter and increases the mid- and high-latitude temperatures. These results are evaluated against four proxy datasets to verify that the annual mean northern high-latitude temperature during the mid-Holocene was warmer than the preindustrial climate, because of the seasonally rectified temperature increase driven by the Arctic amplification. This study offers a resolution to the "Holocene temperature conundrum", a well-known discrepancy between paleo-proxies and climate model simulations of Holocene thermal maximum.