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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 12
Clim. Past, 14, 1851-1868, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-14-1851-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Special issue: Paleoclimate data synthesis and analysis of associated uncertainty...

Clim. Past, 14, 1851-1868, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-14-1851-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 30 Nov 2018

Research article | 30 Nov 2018

Sedproxy: a forward model for sediment-archived climate proxies

Andrew M. Dolman and Thomas Laepple Andrew M. Dolman and Thomas Laepple
  • Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Research Unit Potsdam, Telegrafenberg A45, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Climate reconstructions based on proxy records recovered from marine sediments, such as alkenone records or geochemical parameters measured on foraminifera, play an important role in our understanding of the climate system. They provide information about the state of the ocean ranging back hundreds to millions of years and form the backbone of paleo-oceanography.

However, there are many sources of uncertainty associated with the signal recovered from sediment-archived proxies. These include seasonal or depth-habitat biases in the recorded signal; a frequency-dependent reduction in the amplitude of the recorded signal due to bioturbation of the sediment; aliasing of high-frequency climate variation onto a nominally annual, decadal, or centennial resolution signal; and additional sample processing and measurement error introduced when the proxy signal is recovered.

Here we present a forward model for sediment-archived proxies that jointly models the above processes so that the magnitude of their separate and combined effects can be investigated. Applications include the interpretation and analysis of uncertainty in existing proxy records, parameter sensitivity analysis to optimize future studies, and the generation of pseudo-proxy records that can be used to test reconstruction methods. We provide examples, such as the simulation of individual foraminifera records, that demonstrate the usefulness of the forward model for paleoclimate studies. The model is implemented as an open-source R package, sedproxy, to which we welcome collaborative contributions. We hope that use of sedproxy will contribute to a better understanding of both the limitations and potential of marine sediment proxies to inform researchers about earth's past climate.

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Climate proxies from marine sediments provide an important record of past temperatures, but contain noise from many sources. These include mixing by burrowing organisms, seasonal and habitat biases, measurement error, and small sample size effects. We have created a forward model that simulates the creation of proxy records and provides it as a user-friendly R package. It allows multiple sources of uncertainty to be considered together when interpreting proxy climate records.
Climate proxies from marine sediments provide an important record of past temperatures, but...
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