Climate Dynamics

, Volume 27, Issue 2–3, pp 165–184 | Cite as

Using paleoclimate proxy-data to select optimal realisations in an ensemble of simulations of the climate of the past millennium

  • Hugues Goosse
  • Hans Renssen
  • Axel Timmermann
  • Raymond S. Bradley
  • Michael E. Mann


We present and describe in detail the advantages and limitations of a technique that combines in an optimal way model results and proxy-data time series in order to obtain states of the climate system consistent with model physics, reconstruction of past radiative forcing and proxy records. To achieve this goal, we select among an ensemble of simulations covering the last millennium performed with a low-resolution 3-D climate model the ones that minimise a cost function. This cost function measures the misfit between model results and proxy records. In the framework of the tests performed here, an ensemble of 30 to 40 simulations appears sufficient to reach reasonable correlations between model results and reconstructions, in configurations for which a small amount of data is available as well as in data-rich areas. Preliminary applications of the technique show that it can be used to provide reconstructions of past large-scale temperature changes, complementary to the ones obtained by statistical methods. Furthermore, as model results include a representation of atmospheric and oceanic circulations, it can be used to provide insights into some amplification mechanisms responsible for past temperature changes. On the other hand, if the number of proxy records is too low, it could not be used to provide reconstructions of past changes at a regional scale.


Cost Function Internal Variability Ocean General Circulation Model Proxy Data Temperature Reconstruction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank J. Luterbacher for sending us his reconstruction of European temperatures. M. Collins and two anonymous referees made very useful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. H. Goosse is Research Associate with the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (Belgium). H. Renssen is sponsored by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (N.W.O). A. Timmermann is supported by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) through its sponsorship of the International Pacific Research Center. M.E. Mann was supported by the NOAA- AND NSF-supported “Earth Systems History” program. This study was carried out as part of the Second Multiannual Scientific Support Plan for a Sustainable Development Policy (Belgian Federal Science Policy Office, contracts EV/10/7D and EV/10/9A) and the Action Concertée Incitative Changement Climatique (project Changement Climatique et Cryosphère) from the French Ministry of Research. This is IPRC Publication # 370 SOEST publication # 6726.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugues Goosse
    • 1
  • Hans Renssen
    • 2
  • Axel Timmermann
    • 3
  • Raymond S. Bradley
    • 4
  • Michael E. Mann
    • 5
  1. 1.Institut d’Astronomie et de Géophysique G. Lemaître Université Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of Earth and Life SciencesVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.IPRC, SOESTUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of MassachusettsMasschusettsUSA
  5. 5.Department of Meteorology and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI)Pennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvaniaUSA

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