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Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 23 February 2006


A number of reconstructions of millennial-scale climate variability have been carried out in order to understand patterns of natural climate variability, on decade to century timescales, and the role of anthropogenic forcing1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. These reconstructions have mainly used tree-ring data and other data sets of annual to decadal resolution. Lake and ocean sediments have a lower time resolution, but provide climate information at multicentennial timescales that may not be captured by tree-ring data9,10. Here we reconstruct Northern Hemisphere temperatures for the past 2,000 years by combining low-resolution proxies with tree-ring data, using a wavelet transform technique11 to achieve timescale-dependent processing of the data. Our reconstruction shows larger multicentennial variability than most previous multi-proxy reconstructions1,2,3,4,7, but agrees well with temperatures reconstructed from borehole measurements12 and with temperatures obtained with a general circulation model13,14. According to our reconstruction, high temperatures—similar to those observed in the twentieth century before 1990—occurred around ad 1000 to 1100, and minimum temperatures that are about 0.7 K below the average of 1961–90 occurred around ad 1600. This large natural variability in the past suggests an important role of natural multicentennial variability that is likely to continue.

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Figure 1: Locations of proxy data sites.
Figure 2: Estimations of Northern Hemisphere mean temperature variations.

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We thank H. von Storch, E. Zorita and F. González-Rouco for the ECHO-G data, and H. Pollack and J. Smerdon for borehole data. All these persons and J. Esper, J. Luterbacher and M. Rummukainen are thanked for comments on early versions of the manuscript. We acknowledge financial support from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Swedish Science Council and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

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Correspondence to Anders Moberg.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Notes

Details about proxy data series used, with reference list. (DOC 45 kb)

Supplementary Methods

Description of the methods for estimation of the uncertainties in the reconstruction. (DOC 117 kb)

Supplementary Figure 1

Time series plots of low-resolution proxy data series. (PDF 111 kb)

Supplementary Figure 2

Time series plots of tree-ring series. (PDF 91 kb)

Supplementary Figure 3

Time series plot of low-frequency component of the uncalibrated reconstruction, with jack-knifed estimates and associated 95% confidence intervals for the mean. (PDF 161 kb)

Supplementary Data

Data for the NH temperature reconstruction. (DOC 266 kb)

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Moberg, A., Sonechkin, D., Holmgren, K. et al. Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data. Nature 433, 613–617 (2005).

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