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Reconstructing Past Climate from Noisy Data

Science  22 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5696, pp. 679-682
DOI: 10.1126/science.1096109

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Abstract

Empirical reconstructions of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) temperature in the past millennium based on multiproxy records depict small-amplitude variations followed by a clear warming trend in the past two centuries. We use a coupled atmosphere-ocean model simulation of the past 1000 years as a surrogate climate to test the skill of these methods, particularly at multidecadal and centennial time scales. Idealized proxy records are represented by simulated grid-point temperature, degraded with statistical noise. The centennial variability of the NH temperature is underestimated by the regression-based methods applied here, suggesting that past variations may have been at least a factor of 2 larger than indicated by empirical reconstructions.

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