200 years of European temperature variability: Insights from and tests of the proxy surrogate reconstruction analog method

Jörg Franke, J. Fidel González-Rouco, David Frank, Nicholas E. Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Spatially resolved climate reconstructions are commonly derived from long instrumental series and proxy data via linear regression based approaches that use the main modes of the climate system. Such reconstructions have been shown to underestimate climate variability and are based upon the assumption that the main modes of climate variability are stationary back in time. Climate models simulate physically consistent climate fields but cannot be taken to represent the real past climate trajectory because of their necessarily simplified scope and chaotic internal variability. Here, we present sensitivity tests of, and a 200-year temperature reconstruction from, the PSR (Proxy Surrogate Reconstruction) method. This method simultaneously capitalizes on the individual strengths of instrumental/proxy data based reconstructions and model simulations by selecting the model states (analogs) that are most similar with proxy/instrumental data available at specific places and specific moments of time. Sensitivity experiments reveal an optimal PSR configuration and indicate that 6,500 simulation years of existing climate models provide a sufficient pool of possible analogs to skillfully reconstruct monthly European temperature fields during the past 200 years. Reconstruction verification based upon only seven instrumental stations indicates potential for extensions back in time using sparse proxy data. Additionally the PSR method allows evaluation of single time series, in this case the homogeneity of instrumental series, by identifying inconsistencies with the reconstructed climate field. We present an updated European temperature reconstruction including newly homogenized instrumental records performed with the computationally efficient PSR method that proves to capture the total variance of the target.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-150
Number of pages18
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Analog method
  • Climate reconstruction
  • Europe
  • Instrumental data
  • Paleoclimate
  • Proxy data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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