CORDIS - EU research results

European climate of the last millennium


Millennium will answer one of the most critical questions in climate research: does the magnitude and rate of 20ᵗʰ Century climate change exceed the natural variability of European climate over the last millennium? Existing climate reconstructions rely on inadequate data and underestimate variability. Improved GCM parameterization requires more accurate reconstructions and integrated modelling. We will supply high-resolution chronologies that capture the magnitude and rate of change and the magnitude and frequency of extreme events over the last 1000 years. Our multi-disciplinary team will use innovative and developing technologies to extract quantitative palaeoclimate information from documentary and natural archives, including trees, lakes, mires and ice cores. A multi-proxy approach provides seasonal palaeoclimate signals with quantified precision. Advances in dating allow us, for the first time, to place terrestrial and marine proxy records on the same timescale, allowing lead and lag relationships in ocean-atmosphere forcing to be captured. Annually banded seashells will be cross-dated like tree rings, and tephra-rich sediments used to construct a marine chronology independent of ¹⁴C dating. This can be used to reconstruct changes in ventilation linked directly to the strength of North Atlantic circulation. Millennial reconstructions of European climate, at a range of scales, will define whether recent climate change is unusual in the context of past variability. Millennium proxy-based reconstructions will be fused with a hierarchy of models, run over both millennium and century time scales using a purpose-built PC cluster and the huge resources of the distributed computing network. Integrated hind- and forecast modelling, (using HadCM3) will allow us to test whether current empirically reconstructed climate records based on regression methods underestimate climate sensitivity or if current GCM simulations give overestimates.

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Singleton Park
United Kingdom

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Participants (40)