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  1. Abstract

    Paleoclimate reconstruction relies on estimates of spatiotemporal relationships among climate quantities to interpolate between proxy data. This work quantifies how structural uncertainties in those relationships translate to uncertainties in reconstructions of past climate. We develop and apply a data assimilation uncertainty quantification approach to paleoclimate networks and observational uncertainties representative of data for the last millennium. We find that structural uncertainties arising from uncertain spatial covariance relationships typically contribute 10% of the total uncertainty in reconstructed temperature variability at small (200 km), continental, and hemispheric length scales, with larger errors (50% or larger) in regions where long‐range climate covariances are least certain. These structural uncertainties contribute far more to errors in uncertainty quantification, sometimes by a factor of 5 or higher. Accounting for and reducing uncertainties in climate model dynamics and resulting covariance relationships will improve paleoclimate reconstruction accuracy.

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  2. Abstract

    Reconstructing past climates remains a difficult task because pre‐instrumental observational networks are composed of geographically sparse and noisy paleoclimate proxy records that require statistical techniques to inform complete climate fields. Traditionally, instrumental or climate model statistical relationships are used to spread information from proxy measurements to other locations and to other climate variables. Here ensembles drawn from single climate models and from combinations of multiple climate models are used to reconstruct temperature variability over the last millennium in idealized experiments. We find that reconstructions derived from multi‐model ensembles produce lower error than reconstructions from single‐model ensembles when reconstructing independent model and instrumental data. Specifically, we find the largest decreases in error over regions far from proxy locations that are often associated with large uncertainties in model physics, such as mid‐ and high‐latitude ocean and sea‐ice regions. Furthermore, we find that multi‐model ensemble reconstructions outperform single‐model reconstructions that use covariance localization. We propose that multi‐model ensembles could be used to improve paleoclimate reconstructions in time periods beyond the last millennium and for climate variables other than air temperature, such as drought metrics or sea ice variables.

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  3. Abstract

    Attribution and prediction of global and regional warming requires a better understanding of the magnitude and spatial characteristics of internal global mean surface air temperature (GMST) variability. We examine interdecadal GMST variability in Coupled Modeling Intercomparison Projects, Phases 3, 5, and 6 (CMIP3, CMIP5, and CMIP6) preindustrial control (piControl), last millennium, and historical simulations and in observational data. We find that several CMIP6 simulations show more GMST interdecadal variability than the previous generations of model simulations. Nonetheless, we find that 100‐year trends in CMIP6 piControl simulations never exceed the maximum observed warming trend. Furthermore, interdecadal GMST variability in the unforced piControl simulations is associated with regional variability in the high latitudes and the east Pacific, whereas interdecadal GMST variability in instrumental data and in historical simulations with external forcing is more globally coherent and is associated with variability in tropical deep convective regions.

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