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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 23 Jan 2019

Submitted as: research article | 23 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Joint inversion of proxy system models to reconstruct paleoenvironmental time series from heterogeneous data

Gabriel J. Bowen1, Brenden Fisher-Femal1, Gert-Jan Reichart2, Appy Sluijs3, and Caroline H. Lear4 Gabriel J. Bowen et al.
  • 1Department of Geology & Geophysics and Global Change & Sustainability Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
  • 2NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Den Burg, Texel, the Netherlands
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 4School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

Abstract. Paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions are fundamentally uncertain because no proxy is a direct record of a single environmental variable of interest; all proxies are indirect and sensitive to multiple forcing factors. One productive approach to reducing proxy uncertainty is the integration of information from multiple proxy systems with complimentary, overlapping sensitivity. Most such analyses are conducted in an ad-hoc fashion, either through qualitative comparison to assess the similarity of single-proxy reconstructions or through step-wise quantitative interpretations where one proxy is used to constrain a variable relevant to the interpretation of a second proxy. Here we propose the integration of multiple proxies via the joint inversion of proxy system and paleoenvironmental time series models in a Bayesian hierarchical framework. The "Joint Proxy Inversion" (JPI) method provides a statistically robust approach to producing self-consistent interpretations of multi-proxy datasets, allowing full and simultaneous assessment of all proxy and model uncertainties to obtain quantitative estimates of past environmental conditions. Other benefits of the method include the ability to use independent information on climate and environmental systems to inform the interpretation of proxy data, to fully leverage information from unevenly- and differently-sampled proxy records, and to obtain refined estimates of proxy model parameters that are conditioned on paleo-archive data. Application of JPI to the marine Mg / Ca and δ18O proxy systems at two distinct timescales demonstrates many of the key properties, benefits, and sensitivities of the method, and produces new, statistically-grounded reconstructions of Neogene ocean temperature and chemistry from previously published data. We suggest that JPI is a universally applicable method that can be implemented using proxy models of wide-ranging complexity to generate more robust, quantitative understanding of past climatic and environmental change.

Gabriel J. Bowen et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Gabriel J. Bowen et al.
Gabriel J. Bowen et al.
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Latest update: 25 Aug 2019
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Past climate conditions are reconstructed using indirect and incomplete geological, biological, and geochemical proxy data. We propose that paleoclimate reconstructions are best obtained from such data using statistical models that represent how multiple proxy observations and calibration datasets arise from environmental conditions that vary systematically in time and/or space. These methods can extract additional information from traditional proxies and provide robust estimates of uncertainty.
Past climate conditions are reconstructed using indirect and incomplete geological, biological,...