By Andy May

In previous posts (here, here and here), we have shown reconstructions for the Antarctic, Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, the tropics, the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, and the Arctic. Here we combine them into a simple global temperature reconstruction. The five regional reconstructions are shown in figure 1. The R code to map the proxy locations, the references and metadata for the proxies, and the global reconstruction spreadsheet can be downloaded here. For a description of the proxies and methods used, see part 1, here.

Figure 1A, all proxies except TN057-17 on the Antarctic Polar Front
Figure 1B, the proxies used for the reconstructions

It is interesting that the Northern Hemisphere is the odd reconstruction. This was also true for the Marcott et al. (2013) Northern Hemisphere reconstruction from 30°N to 60°N, see figure S10f, in their supplementary materials. The Northern Hemisphere has the greatest temperature variation of the five regions and a clearly different trend. Is this because it contains most of the land? Perhaps so. It may be, in part, the impact of the melting continental glaciers from the last glacial advance. Certainly, the high Northern Hemisphere insolation, early in the Holocene due to orbital precession and obliquity played a significant role (see figure 2 in part 1, also shown for convenience as figure 2 below). In the figure, the colored curves are the seasonal changes due to precession and the background color is insolation by latitude due to obliquity changes. The black curve is the Greenland NGRIP temperature reconstruction, note that the end of the last glacial period is when both orbital obliquity and precession hit their peak insolation in the Northern Hemisphere. The labels on the curves indicate Northern Hemisphere as “N” and Southern Hemisphere as “S.” The letters after that are the first letters of the months of the year. At the beginning of the Holocene, the Northern Hemisphere summer had maximal insolation due to precession and the higher latitudes (poles) had greater insolation, due to obliquity, at the expense of the tropics. Thus, both the precession cycle and the obliquity cycle were in their warmest phases for the Northern Hemisphere mid and high latitudes. This changed a few thousand years later and the climatic equator (the Intertropical Convergence Zone) shifted and the long Neoglacial cooling period began (see figure 12, in part 2).

Figure 2 (Source: Javier, see his post for a detailed explanation of the figure.)

The Southern Hemisphere is also a bit anomalous, with a dip in the period of the HCO, corresponding with a dip in winter insolation in the Southern Hemisphere. The other interesting thing about the reconstructions is that the Northern Hemisphere has a higher and longer Holocene Climatic Optimum. The Northern Hemisphere was affected much more by the last glacial advance due to the large continental ice masses there. The Southern Hemisphere ice was mostly sea ice which, presumably, melts at a steadier rate with less dramatic effect.

The Arctic and Antarctic each cover 6.7% of the globe, the southern and northern mid-latitudes cover 18.3% each and the tropics covers 50%. If we weight each reconstruction by the area of its region we get the reconstruction in figure 3. Figure 3A uses all proxies, except for TN057-17, which was removed in part 2. Figure 3B also eliminates ODP-658C, KY07-04-01 and OCE326-GGC26. The removal of the latter three proxies are discussed in part 2 and part 3. The two reconstructions only differ in detail.

Figure 3A, all proxies
Figure 3B, three additional proxies removed

We will discuss the reconstruction in figure 3B since we prefer it. In this reconstruction, the depth of the Little Ice Age (LIA) occurs in 1610 AD. The apparent Medieval Warm Period (MWP) is smeared over several hundred years and occurs from around 510 AD to 1050 AD which does not fit the historical record. Oddly, only the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics show a distinct Medieval Warm Period (MWP) in its historical time. This is despite abundant historical evidence of a Northern Hemisphere MWP from around 900 AD to 1200 AD. The Antarctic reconstruction shows several warm spikes during the period, but nothing very distinct. The reason for the lack of a distinct MWP signature in the northern reconstructions is not known. In part 3 we looked at the individual proxies for the Northern Hemisphere and saw that they disagree on the presence and timing of the MWP.

The Roman Warm Period (RWP) shows up well in the reconstruction, at about the right time. The “collapse of civilization” at the end of the Bronze Age is clearly seen. The 4.2 kiloyear event that led to the collapse of the Akkadian empire in 4170 BP can be seen (deMenocal, 2001). The 5.9 kyr event that occurred as the Sahara was turning into a desert, causing a great migration to the Nile valley that ultimately resulted in the Egyptian Old Kingdom is clearly seen. The LIA is the most significant climatic event of the Holocene without question, but the second most severe climatic event may well be the 8.2 kyr event. This event ended the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B culture and was when the Black Sea was catastrophically connected to the Mediterranean in an event that may be remembered as Noah’s great flood (Ryan and Pittman). The 10.3 kiloyear event takes place about the time the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period began. For more details on human history and climate change see “Climate and Human Civilization over the last 18,000 years” here. The historical climatic events match this reconstruction well, except for the MWP.

The details of the regional areas are in Table 1. This table is different from the one presented in part 1 of this series because after part 1 was put up we dropped ODP-658C from the tropics reconstruction and KY07-04-01 and OCE326-GGC26 from the Northern Hemisphere reconstruction. Marcott, et al. (2013) used 73 proxies for their reconstruction and our first pass retained 31 of these and added the Rosenthal et al. (2013) Indonesian proxy for a total of 32. As the study progressed we dropped three more proxies and ended with 29. Fifty-five…