Articles | Volume 5, issue 4
08 Oct 2009
 | 08 Oct 2009

A few prospective ideas on climate reconstruction: from a statistical single proxy approach towards a multi-proxy and dynamical approach

J. Guiot, H. B. Wu, V. Garreta, C. Hatté, and M. Magny

Abstract. Important progresses have been made in palaeoclimatological studies by using statistical methods. But they are in somewhere limited as they take the present as an absolute reference. This is particularly true for the modern analogue technique. The availability of mechanistic models to simulate the proxies measured in the sediment cores gives now the possibility to relax this constraint. In particular, vegetation models provide outputs comparable to pollen data (assuming that there is a relationship between plant productivity and pollen counts). The input of such models is, among others, climate. The idea behind paleoclimatological reconstructions is then to obtain inputs, given outputs. This procedure, called model inversion, can be achieved with appropriate algorithms in the frame of the Bayesian statistical theory. But we have chosen to present it in an intuitive way, avoiding the mathematics behind it. Starting from a relative simple application, based on an equilibrium BIOME3 model with a single proxy (pollen), the approach has evolved into two directions: (1) by using several proxies measured on the same core (e.g. lake-level status and δ13C) when they are related to a component of the vegetation, and (2) by using a more complex vegetation model, the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS. Examples presented (most of them being already published) concern Last Glacial Maximum in Europe and Africa, Holocene in a site of the Swiss Jura, an Eemian site in France. The main results are that: (1) pollen alone is not able to provide exhaustive information on precipitation, (2) assuming past CO2 equivalent to modern one may induce biases in climate reconstruction, (3) vegetation models seem to be too much constrained by temperature relative to precipitation in temperate regions. This paper attempts to organise some recent ideas in the palaeoclimatological reconstruction domain and to propose prospectives in that effervescent domain.