Thursday, May 3, 2012


date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 11:02:22 +0100
subject: Research Grant Reference: NE/C509507/1 - Research Grant

Dear Dr Osborn

PROJECT TITLE: To what extent was the Little Ice Age a result of a change
in the thermohaline circulation?

Your application for the above Research Grant will be considered at the
Rapid Climate Change (RCC) Steering committee meeting. Referee comments
have now been obtained on the application, and have included the following
points to which you have been invited to respond.

These comments are presented to you for clarification and do not represent
any pre-judgement of the outcome of your application, and may be untypical
of the general tone of review received.

Should you wish to respond to the points raised by the referees, please do
so by 18/08/2004 to allow us to include your response in the papers sent to
the committee reviewing your application. We realise that this is a short
period of time and would encourage you to submit your response by e-mail.
Please make sure that you include your grant reference number. Please note
that NERC is now introducing a page restriction on the length of your
response. Your reply should be as concise as possible and must not exceed
an average of one side of A4 for each referee assessment. For example,
should you receive 3 sets of referee comments, your response should not
exceed 3 sides of A4, with a minimum text font size 12. Please note that
any response longer than the page limit will not be put to the Panel

This e-mail has been copied to the all Investigators on the application in
case the Principal Investigator (PI) is out of contact. However, please
note that we can only accept one response to these comments (preferably
from the PI) - not one from each Investigator contacted.

Should we receive further referee comments we will endeavour to forward
these to you for comment before the meeting. Please note however, that
these late comments may have alternative deadlines for response, due to
meeting paper reproduction schedules, which you should attempt to meet
wherever possible. No guarantee can be made that late responses will be
included in the main set of meeting papers.

Yours sincerely
Sandra Moss

Research Grants Team
Tel: (01793) 411558
Fax: (01793) 411545

Please refer to if you need to
contact individuals within NERC.

Referee A

What are the proposal's particular strengths? Provide justification for the
grades given above. Continue on a separate sheet if necessary.

While it is not obvious that the Little Ice Age (LIA) can be called "rapid"
climate change, the investigation of potential causes of the LIA is
scientifically very interesting and important, and clearly merits inclusion
in the call for proposals in the Rapid Climate Change program. The
particular strength of the proposal lies in the combination of expertise
from i) paleoclimatology, ii) climate modeling and iii) data assimilation.
The proposed series of experiments to test various hypotheses (LIA forcing
through THC weakening, low NAO, low solar radiation or increased volcanism)
has a good chance of determining the consistency of one or more of the
possible mechanisms with the observed record, in particular for the first
two mechanisms on which most of the effort is directed. The idea to use
singular vectors to force an atmospheric model into a prescribed state of
the NAO is novel and very attractive.

The research teams in both places are well qualified, have a very good
reputation and an ideal complementary mix of expertise.

What are the proposal's particular weaknesses? Provide justification for
the grades given above. Continue on a separate sheet if necessary.

Using freshwater forcing to weaken the THC will work. However, unless there
is any evidence of increased melting prior or during the LIA, this has some
aspects of invoking a deus ex machina.

With regard to solar and volcanic forcing, there is little mention of
previous work. In particular, a discussion as to how accurate these
forcings can be reconstructed would be very useful.

Referee B

Different hypotheses about possible causes of the Little Ice Age will be
examined using 2 different kind of models. The proposal fits with the
programme to understand past rapid climate change. The evaluation of
forcing factors in climate change, and the comparison with data will
enhance our ability to understand present and possible future changes. The
proposal complements earlier work of the proponents. The cross-national
initiative brings the expertise in fully coupled models, EMICs, and
statistical analyses together.

A weakness of the proposal is the use of the DATUN technique which is
associated with time consuming programing work and which has not been shown
to be useful for paleoclimatic applications. This technique is until now
only documented in gray literature, see ref 21,43,44. In my oppinion, the
scientific work can be done without DATUN, and the NERC part can therefore
be reduced from 31.9 months to 20 months. The proposed PostDoc (KNMI) and
the team are highly qualified for the project.

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