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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 2 | Copyright
Clim. Past, 8, 765-786, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-8-765-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 18 Apr 2012

Research article | 18 Apr 2012

The extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere temperature in the last two millennia: reconstructions of low-frequency variability

B. Christiansen1 and F. C. Ljungqvist2 B. Christiansen and F. C. Ljungqvist
  • 1Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract. We present two new multi-proxy reconstructions of the extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere (30–90° N) mean temperature: a two-millennia long reconstruction reaching back to 1 AD and a 500-yr long reconstruction reaching back to 1500 AD. The reconstructions are based on compilations of 32 and 91 proxies, respectively, of which only little more than half pass a screening procedure and are included in the actual reconstructions. The proxies are of different types and of different resolutions (annual, annual-to-decadal, and decadal) but all have previously been shown to relate to local or regional temperature. We use a reconstruction method, LOCal (LOC), that recently has been shown to confidently reproduce low-frequency variability. Confidence intervals are obtained by an ensemble pseudo-proxy method that both estimates the variance and the bias of the reconstructions. The two-millennia long reconstruction shows a well defined Medieval Warm Period, with a peak warming ca. 950–1050 AD reaching 0.6 °C relative to the reference period 1880–1960 AD. The 500-yr long reconstruction confirms previous results obtained with the LOC method applied to a smaller proxy compilation; in particular it shows the Little Ice Age cumulating in 1580–1720 AD with a temperature minimum of −1.0 °C below the reference period. The reconstructed local temperatures, the magnitude of which are subject to wide confidence intervals, show a rather geographically homogeneous Little Ice Age, while more geographical inhomogeneities are found for the Medieval Warm Period. Reconstructions based on different subsets of proxies show only small differences, suggesting that LOC reconstructs 50-yr smoothed extra-tropical NH mean temperatures well and that low-frequency noise in the proxies is a relatively small problem.

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