CR 56:231-244 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01156

Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction during the last millennium using multiple annual proxies

Feng Shi1,2, Bao Yang2,*, Aurèlien Mairesse3, Lucien von Gunten4, Jianping Li1, Achim Bräuning5, Fengmei Yang6, Xia Xiao1

1State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100029 Beijing, PR China
2Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 730000 Lanzhou, PR China
3Georges Lemaótre Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Earth and Life Institute, UniversitÈ catholique de Louvain, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
4Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research & Institute of Geography, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
5Institute of Geography, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, 91054 Erlangen, Germany
6China Meteorological Administration Training Centre, 100081 Beijing, PR China,
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Previous studies have either exclusively used annual tree-ring data or have combined tree-ring series with other, lower temporal resolution proxy series. Both approaches can lead to significant uncertainties, as tree-rings may underestimate the amplitude of past temperature variations, and the validity of non-annual records cannot be clearly assessed. In this study, we assembled 45 published Northern Hemisphere (NH) temperature proxy records covering the past millennium, each of which satisfied 3 essential criteria: the series must be of annual resolution, span at least a thousand years, and represent an explicit temperature signal. Suitable climate archives included ice cores, varved lake sediments, tree-rings and speleothems. We reconstructed the average annual land temperature series for the NH over the last millennium by applying 3 different reconstruction techniques: (1) principal components (PC) plus second-order autoregressive model (AR2), (2) composite plus scale (CPS) and (3) regularized errors-in-variables approach (EIV). Our reconstruction is in excellent agreement with 6 climate model simulations (including the first 5 models derived from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) and an earth system model of intermediate complexity (LOVECLIM), showing similar temperatures at multi-decadal timescales; however, all simulations appear to underestimate the temperature during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). A comparison with other NH reconstructions shows that our results are consistent with earlier studies. These results indicate that well-validated annual proxy series should be used to minimize proxy-based artifacts, and that these proxy series contain sufficient information to reconstruct the low-frequency climate variability over the past millennium.


KEY WORDS: Climate change · Global warming · Palaeoclimatology · Temperature reconstruction


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Cite this article as: Shi F, Yang B, Mairesse A, von Gunten L and others (2013) Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction during the last millennium using multiple annual proxies. Clim Res 56:231-244. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01156

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