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CR prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01636

The future of paleoclimate

Jan Esper*, Ulf Büntgen

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Ever since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, the release of new reports every 6–8 years generates an international media echo and influences policy makers around the world. Beyond its public impact, the Working Group 1 reports on “The Physical Science Basis” are unique documents that summarize the state of climate science at a given point in time, and the chapter on paleoclimatic findings became a pivotal benchmark within and beyond academia. This tradition will now be resigned as the IPCC decided to not include a chapter on paleoclimatic findings in its next Working Group 1 report to be released in 2021, but to add information on past climate variability to several subsections. Even readers from outside the climate science community might wonder why this is the case. Are paleoclimatic findings less relevant to understand the current climate dynamics, or have the fundamental paleoclimatic problems been solved so that previous reports serve the purpose of informing the public? None of this is applicable: Information on past natural climate variability is still important to narrow uncertainties of future scenarios yet our knowledge quickly fades over the most recent period of pre-instrumental climate variability, the Common Era (CE) spanning the past 2000 years.