Applications of proxy system modeling in high resolution paleoclimatology

M. N. Evans, S. E. Tolwinski-Ward, D. M. Thompson, K. J. Anchukaitis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations


A proxy system model may be defined as the complete set of forward and mechanistic processes by which the response of a sensor to environmental forcing is recorded and subsequently observed in a material archive. Proxy system modeling complements and sharpens signal interpretations based solely on statistical analyses and transformations; providesthe basis for observing network optimization, hypothesis testing, and data-model comparisons for uncertainty estimation; and may be incorporated as weak but mechanistically-plausible constraints into paleoclimatic reconstruction algorithms. Following a review illustrating these applications, we recommend future research pathways, including development of intermediate proxy system models for important sensors, archives, and observations; linking proxy system models to climate system models; hypothesis development and evaluation; more realistic multi-archive, multi-observation network design; examination of proxy system behavior under extreme conditions; and generalized modeling of the total uncertainty in paleoclimate reconstructions derived from paleo-observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Sep 15 2013


  • Data-model comparison
  • Forward modeling
  • Hypothesis evaluation
  • Observational network optimization
  • Reconstruction
  • Uncertainty modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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