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Published September 15, 2013 | Version v1
Dataset Open

Paleoclimate Data-Model Comparison and the Role of Climate Forcings over the Past 1500 Years

  • 1. Climate Change Research Centre, and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2. School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
  • 3. School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  • 4. Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 5. International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 6. Monash Weather and Climate, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  • 7. Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 8. Institute for Environmental Research, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Menai, New South Wales, Australia
  • 9. Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, and Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Description

The past 1500 years provide a valuable opportunity to study the response of the climate system to external forcings. However, the integration of paleoclimate proxies with climate modeling is critical to improving the understanding of climate dynamics. In this paper, a climate system model and proxy records are therefore used to study the role of natural and anthropogenic forcings in driving the global climate. The inverse and forward approaches to paleoclimate data-model comparison are applied, and sources of uncertainty are identified and discussed. In the first of two case studies, the climate model simulations are compared with multiproxy temperature reconstructions. Robust solar and volcanic signals are detected in Southern Hemisphere temperatures, with a possible volcanic signal detected in the Northern Hemisphere. The anthropogenic signal dominates during the industrial period. It is also found that seasonal and geographical biases may cause multiproxy reconstructions to overestimate the magnitude of the long-term preindustrial cooling trend. In the second case study, the model simulations are compared with a coral d18O record from the central Pacific Ocean. It is found that greenhouse gases, solar irradiance, and volcanic eruptions all influence the mean state of the central Pacific, but there is no evidence that natural or anthropogenic forcings have any systematic impact on El Nino-Southern Oscillation. The proxy climate relationship is found to change over time, challenging the assumption of stationarity that underlies the interpretation of paleoclimate proxies. These case studies demonstrate the value of paleoclimate data-model comparison but also highlight the limitations of current techniques and demonstrate the need to develop alternative approaches.

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Additional details

Related works

Is supplement to
Journal article: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00108.1 (DOI)

Funding

Reconstructing pre-20th century rainfall, temperature and pressure for south-eastern Australia using palaeoclimate, documentary and early weather station data. LP0990151
Australian Research Council
Untangling the links between El Nino and the changing global climate DP1092945
Australian Research Council