Gigabytes, Megadroughts and Two Kiloyears of Climate History

Jason Smerdon, Columbia University

Paleoclimatology spans many different timescales and incorporates a vast array of natural archives that serve as proxies for past climate variability and change. Among the time periods of study, the Common Era (CE; the last two thousand years) contains the most abundant collection of high-resolution (seasonal to annual) proxy records spread globally across land and sea. The CE is also becoming an increasingly common target for transient simulations using fully-coupled climate and earth system models. The abundance of proxy records and the growing number of climate simulations, in conjunction with the fact that the CE is a period when natural forcing occurred under background conditions that were not too different from today, make it a compelling and critical period of focus.

A consequence of the large amounts of proxy archives and the expanding number of model simulations is the growing need for techniques that facilitate data inquiry, comparison and ensemble characterization across the large collection CE datasets. This talk will highlight two principal examples in the study of CE climate: 1) the reconstruction of hemispheric and global climate fields using a now large body of regression and missing data methods; and 2) data-model comparisons between spatiotemporal hydroclimate reconstructions and ensembles of coupled model simulations. These two examples will be explored in the context of how they have been approached to date and the opportunities that they offer for new approaches within climate informatics.

Link to Presentation: CI2016 Smerdon