Proxy surrogate reconstructions for Europe and the estimation of their uncertainties


Combining proxy information and climate model simulations reconciles these sources of information about past climates. This, in turn, strengthens our understanding of past climatic changes. The analogue or proxy surrogate reconstruction method is a computationally cheap data assimilation approach, which searches in a pool of simulated climate states the best fit to proxy data. We use the approach to reconstruct European summer mean temperature from the 13th century until present using the Euro 2k set of proxy records and a pool of global climate simulation output fields. Our focus is on quantifying the uncertainty of the reconstruction, because previous applications of the analogue method rarely provided uncertainty ranges. We show several ways of estimating reconstruction uncertainty for the analogue method, which take into account the non-climate part of the variability in each proxy record. In general, our reconstruction agrees well at multi-decadal timescales with the Euro 2k reconstruction, which was conducted with two different statistical methods and no information from model simulations. In both methodological approaches, the decades around the year 1600 CE were the coldest. However, the approaches disagree on the warmest pre-industrial periods. The reconstructions from the analogue method also represent the local variations of the observed proxies. The diverse uncertainty estimates obtained from our analogue approaches can be locally larger or smaller than the estimates from the Euro 2k effort. Local uncertainties of the temperature reconstructions tend to be large in areas that are poorly covered by the proxy records. Uncertainties highlight the ambiguity of field-based reconstructions constrained by a limited set of proxies.
QR Code: Link to publication