Documenting the seasonal temperature cycle constitutes an essential step toward mitigating risks associated with extreme weather events in a future warmer world. The mid-Piacenzian Warm Period (mPWP), 3.3 to 3.0 million years ago, featured global temperatures approximately 3°C above preindustrial levels. It represents an ideal period for directed paleoclimate reconstructions equivalent to model projections for 2100 under moderate Shared Socioeconomic Pathway SSP2- 4.5. Here, seasonal clumped isotope analyses of fossil mollusk shells from the North Sea are presented to test Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project 2 outcomes. Joint data and model evidence reveals enhanced summer warming (+4.3° ± 1.0°C) compared to winter (+2.5° ± 1.5°C) during the mPWP, equivalent to SSP2-4.5 outcomes for future climate. We show that Arctic amplification of global warming weakens mid- latitude summer circulation while intensifying seasonal contrast in temperature and precipitation, leading to an increased risk of summer heat waves and other extreme weather events in Europe’s future.

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Science Advances

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Staff publications

de Winter, Niels J., Tindall, Julia, Johnson, Andrew L. A., Goudsmit-Harzevoort, Barbara, Wichern, Nina, Kaskes, Pim, … Ziegler, Martin. (2024). Amplified seasonality in western Europe in a warmer world. Science Advances, 10(20). doi:10.1126/sciadv.adl6717