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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 Aug 2018

Research article | 16 Aug 2018

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

Combining a pollen synthesis and climate simulations for spatial reconstructions of European climate using Bayesian modelling

Nils Weitzel, Andreas Hense, and Christian Ohlwein Nils Weitzel et al.
  • Meteorological Institute, University of Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 20, 53121 Bonn, Germany

Abstract. Probabilistic spatial reconstructions of past climate states are valuable to quantitatively study the climate system under different forcing conditions because they combine the information contained in a proxy synthesis in a comprehensible product. Unfortunately, they are subject to a complex uncertainty structure due to complicated proxy-climate relations and sparse data, which makes interpolation between samples difficult. Bayesian hierarchical models feature promising properties to handle these issues like the possibility to include multiple sources of information and to quantify uncertainties in a statistically rigorous way.

We present a Bayesian framework that combines a network of pollen samples with a spatial prior distribution estimated from a multi-model ensemble of climate simulations. The use of climate simulation output aims at a physically reasonable spatial interpolation of proxy data on a regional scale. To transfer the pollen data into (local) climate information, we apply a forward version of the probabilistic indicator taxa model. The Bayesian inference is performed using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods following a Metropolis-within-Gibbs strategy.

We reconstruct mean temperature of the warmest and mean temperature of the coldest month during the mid-Holocene in Europe using a published pollen and macrofossil synthesis in combination with the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project Phase III mid-Holocene ensemble. The output of our Bayesian model is a spatially distributed probability distribution that facilitates quantitative analyses which account for uncertainties. Our reconstruction performs well in cross-validation experiments and shows a reasonable degree of spatial smoothing.

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Short summary
A new method for probabilistic spatial reconstructions of past climate states is presented which combines pollen data with a multi-model ensemble of climate simulations in a Bayesian framework. The approach is applied to reconstruct summer and winter temperature in Europe during the mid-Holocene. Our reconstructions account for multiple sources of uncertainty and are well suited for quantitative statistical analyses of the climate under different forcing conditions.
A new method for probabilistic spatial reconstructions of past climate states is presented which...