Sunday, May 6, 2012


cc: Sandy Tudhope <>, simon Tett <>, Keith Briffa <>, Tim Osborn <>, Gabi Hegerl <>, Chris Jones <>, Rob Allan <>, Philip Brohan <>, "Bass, Catherine" <>
date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 11:14:19 +0100
from: "Cox, Peter" <>
subject: RE: Proposed structure for Consortium Bid
to: Phil Jones <>, Rob Wilson <>, "Turney, Christian" <>

Hi Folks

Sorry to have missed the telecon (...well not that sorry as I was having a lovely holiday..;-).

Based-on Chris's outline and the email discussion subsequently, I think we are still lacking a proper scientific focus for the consortium.

I guess the time-frame of 1600 onwards (as suggested by Phil) is favoured because proxies are likely to be more plentiful over this period (?), but an earlier period covering the little ice-age anomaly would be more useful for constraining climate-carbon cycle feedbacks.

I am also unconvinced that we should commit to doing too many more GCM runs when worldwide there are so many runs unanalysed..;-). Is there any value in building on the QUEST-funded PalaeoQUMP activities led by Sandy Harrison?

Sorry for the ramble, but I think we need to identify our key scientific questions first. Here are a few things that interest me:

1) What do climate proxies tell us about the response of regional climates to radiative forcing, especially impacts on modes of variability such as ENSO and NAO?
2) Can we detect non-climatic environmental impacts on tree-rings, such as CO2-fertilization and diffuse radiation effects?
3) Is there evidence of rapid loss of peat carbon in Earth's recent past (e.g. evidence of peat fires)?
4) Does the palaeoclimate record constrain 21st century climate-carbon cycle feedbacks ?

You can see my bias towards the terrestrial carbon cycle here..;-)...and it may be that we can't answer many of these questions with the data we envisage pulling-together in this project.

However, I think we need a few similar overarching scientific questions (which aren't too broad) to focus our ideas. Do others have clear questions in mind?

All the best


Prof Peter Cox
Met Office Chair in Climate System Dynamics Room 336, Harrison Building
School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics University of Exeter
Tel (univ): 01392 269220
Tel (mob): 07827 412572
From: Phil Jones []
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 3:27 PM
To: Rob Wilson; Turney, Christian
Cc: Sandy Tudhope; simon Tett; Keith Briffa; Tim Osborn; Gabi Hegerl; Chris Jones; Cox, Peter; Rob Allan; Philip Brohan; Bass, Catherine
Subject: Re: Proposed structure for Consortium Bid

Chris et al,
Rob's response got me thinking. I've just emailed a review paper from the Holocene. I think most of the others in the group have seen this, let me know if not? Some aspects of the consortium bid could follow up on the recommendations from the final section of this review. This was a PAGES funded meeting, so presumably has some clout in reviewer eyes?

I agree it's difficult to be specific at this stage about what resources we're going to need. We need to have some idea of whether the modelling runs need to be costed somehow, and how much extra fieldwork we'll be doing. The review paper indicates that it is extra proxies in the SH and tropics that are needed.

I think we have agreed on the time frame of 1600 onwards.

Rob Wilson is aware of an initiative that Ed Cook is moving along with at the moment. This is to develop a set of European drought reconstructions, back as far as possible. This will be of PDSI, as we have a new version of the program (scPDSI - self-calibrating PDSI). Ed is planning to come to CRU next summer for a 6 month period. This will involve putting together all the drought responding trees we have across Europe. This is essentially almost all European trees, so would be useful for the Consortium Bid. For PDSI we'll just be using those that are responsive to drought.

So for CRU/UEA the collaborators would be Ed Cook and also Gerard van der Schrier at KNMI, who has got the scPDSI program working. It should be fairly straightforward to get this program going through any GCM output.

We have a good group thinking about the issues. We need to somehow emphasize this in the context of the last 400 years and the high-frequency nature of the proxies we'll be using, together with the improved instrumental data. We haven't got everyone in the UK, but I think we have most of those who've looked at model simulations for this period, and those developing high-freq proxy reconstructions. We could easily use reconstructions like that attached along with loads of others to produce spatial reconstructions for Europe - but presumably MILLENNIUM will be doing this. We could also produce spatial reconstructions for large parts of the world, but the world and his wife are trying to do this. Most modelling centres are also doing runs for the last 500 or 1000 years as well, so where does our expertise bring.......?

Your analysis tasks seem fine enough. New proxies need to be very focussed and should be ones we really need, being in mind our combined knowledge of what is out there. We can probably do the mid and high lats of the NH quite well already. It is the tropics and SH where we need help and our collaborator's areas should emphasize that, which I think they will do. European instrumental temperatures in summer ae going to be revised downwards (by about 0.4 deg C for periods before 1850), so the mid-lat of the NH reconstructions should reflect this new work which is either in press or submitted.

Exactly what modelling runs we're going to do need to be better defined. So, from my perspective, we need to better define the objectives. I can follow c) easily. I know I suggested b) but we're going to need a good example of where this might be possible in practice. I guess it's going to come through a) but it's not that clear in my mind how this will be achieved? I can't see how better proxy reconstructions are going to help constrain the models with the carbon cycle feedbacks. This must be related to better forcing histories, but how do we know we have these right? Can we somehow say from proxy/model comparisons that if they don't agree that well that it is down to the forcing, the model physics or the proxy data? If we could reduce the dimensionality of the problem then this might help. Volcanoes are a high-frequency response, so should be doable with shorter time slices. Solar and carbon cycle feedbacks are more low-frequency, so harder to constrain.

I seem to floundering a bit. I keep coming back to the long European instrumental records and the wealth or proxy data we have for the continent. We can better test the proxy methods here and we can look at some teleconnections in detail with long records, and follow these through with similar analyses with the models.

I hope this is useful - I see you're away in the Arctic till Sept 11.


At 12:28 08/08/2009, Rob Wilson wrote:
Hi Chris,
Greetings from Germany
very brief comments attached.
Just by luck I checked my e-mail today but will be out of e-mail contact over the next few days as I will be climbing in the Alps.

It is difficult to be specific about what resources I would require without some discussion with others in project and Overseas Collaborators etc.

However, one thing that I am currently pushing for in other proposals is funds for my Scottish work (brief mention in attached).
This would make a very nice PhD and certainly will result in a TR based summer temperature reconstruction back to ~1600.
I would also require funds for maximum density measurements etc etc.

beyond that - i.e. taking a larger view, I would like to discuss with Rosanne, Ed and possibly even Dave Frank (Jan Esper is moving to Germany so Dave is probably the best WSL contact) and we could probably identify some significant mid-latitude gaps quite easily and those would be the target regions for new sampling = plus updating some "classic" sites to present.

anyway - sorry for rushed e-mail, but like you I have a grumpy wife who thinks I should ignore work when on holiday!!

regards to all

Chris Turney wrote:
Hi everyone,

We've worked up the key points that came out of the teleconference last week. Please find attached a suggested structure which we hope justifies a consortium bid. See what you think. Could you send me any comments (including request for resource) by Tuesday next week? If happy, I'll then use this as a basis for a 2 pager which I'll circulate to everyone. If you can give some thought to any resource your institution might be able to commit to the project (PhDs, inkind support etc), even if it's only an aspiration at this stage, that would be most helpful (it might help sweeten the deal when we approach NERC).

Please note I'm away on holiday on Sunday but will (unpopularly!) be checking my email so although you'll get an auto reply saying I'm away, I will be in contact.

All the best,

Professor Chris Turney FRSA FRGS

Director of Carbonscape<>, Fixing carbon the way nature intended

Author of Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past<>
Popular science website:<>
Journal of Quaternary Science<> Asian and Australasian Regional Editor

School of Geography
The University of Exeter

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Dr. Rob Wilson
Lecturer in Physical Geography
School of Geography & Geosciences
University of St Andrews
St Andrews. FIFE
KY16 9AL
Scotland. U.K.
Tel: +44 01334 463914
Fax: +44 01334 463949

".....I have wondered about trees.

They are sensitive to light, to moisture, to wind, to pressure.
Sensitivity implies sensation. Might a man feel into the soul of a tree
for these sensations? If a tree were capable of awareness, this faculty
might prove useful. "

"The Miracle Workers" by Jack Vance

Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
University of East Anglia
Norwich Email
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