Sunday, June 10, 2012


date: Tue, 03 Jul 2001 15:01:17 +0100
from: Phil Jones <>
subject: Re: ALPIPMOD-brainstorming
to: Keith Briffa <>, "Dr. Reinhard B�hm" <>, <>, <>, <m.brunetti@isao.>,<Dietmar. Wagenbach@iup.>, <>,<>, <>

Dear All,
Here are a few more comments on ALPIPMOD.
Ideas are probably not very well ordered. First, you should try for a 3 year
and second, although here for most of the next three months (apart from odd days) I
couldn't justify a meeting. I am intending on resubmitting another proposal to the October
EU round. This one will involve some of the group from ADVICE. It's aim will be to develop
a daily MSLP dataset for Europe and the Atlantic (30-70N by 70W-50E). After the dataset
is produced in the first year, the second and third year will see various analyses
and comparisons of several GCM runs performed at the Hadley Centre. This new project
will probably go to 2.4.1 which will be a different area from yours which will be 2.1.4.
Thus I
would hope that your proposal could be developed over email.
The above dataset would go back to 1850. This is the period which from the IMPROVE
is just beyond how far we think we can reliably go back with daily data. Several papers
the IMPROVE poject (Moberg et al., 2000 in JGR and several others in press in a special
of Climatic Change) have come to the about 1870 date. We have much earlier data for the 8
sites but ensuring strict homogeneity of the daily series seems doubtful for some types of
extreme measures prior to about 1870. Pressure seems better than temperature. Some sites
are better than others. Monthly is fine for all.
All the IMPROVE and ADVICE data can be used by the ALPIPMOD project. I have a summer
student updating the 51 monthly MSLP sites from ADVICE, amongst other things.
As for your ideas, I think you need some overarching theme. The atlas and CD of all
the data may be one, but it also needs to address some scientific issues which can be
shown to have relevance to the public.
I like the idea of making use of the Alpine orography looking at changes in lapse
rates and
the use of high and low elevation air pressures. The latter is a totally independent
method of
looking at the warming and can be used back to the late 18th century. The Alps have the
longest records of any mountaineous records of any region of the world. Also I am a
advocate of changes in the influence of features such as the NAO (and other circulation
indicators) on surface climate. You can clearly look at these changes over the last 200
years with all the data you have.
Another important issue to a lot of climatologists is the relative surface warming
to the MSU2LT data in the lower troposphere. Although this is hemispheric in extent, we
look with the longer Alpine records as to changes in lower level lapse rates over 200+
Related to this tropical ice caps are disappearing at alarming rates in Peru, Tanzania and
in Tibet (Lonnie Thompson's work). Lonnie has calculated that the ice cap on Kilimanjaro
will not be there by 2015 at its present rate of retreat. Lonnie has some local
series for about 40 years which show a small warming yet the ice caps are going fast. Why?
These ice caps have all been cored and have ice during the MWP times yet some aren't
producing layers now !
My idea is to use the better known histories of the Alpine glaciers to see if they
also melting at accelerated rates than simple temperature averages would imply. Keith
mentioned the forward modelling approaches to determine positions in the past (and then
relate these to moraine termini). Do these models still function in the last 20 years?
thinks a lot of the tropical melting is due to sublimation, which isn't accounted for by
degree day models. The elevational sunshine records may be important here and with
temperature a particular season may be much more important than the other three.
All the above is just ideas, but getting all the data together (instrumental and tree
as well glacier termini and mass balance) allows us to be able to model the glaciers
better than
anywhere else. All Europeans will be interested in whether Alpine glaciers are going to
disappear and there will be clear impacts on biodiversity at the high elevations and
Another impact area is on the use of glacier meltwater and runoff in hydropower
These are all good issues to use in the social and economic pages that need to be written.
At 15:10 29/06/01 +0100, Keith Briffa wrote:

Hi everyone
I have been through the ideas and offer a few (aptly non organised) comments. First Phil
is away and will not be able to comment until later.
First, the project needs more explicit focus. The call will focused on natural
variability . We are offering a detailed analysis of the variability of climate in the
Alpine Region that focuses on CLIVAR timescales - basically very high resolution and not
extending much beyond a few centuries. The project incorporates instrumental , model and
palaeodata . The inter-relationships between these will be studied to gain an
understanding of the nature and mechanisms of the climate variability - but is this
enough. I feel it needs to be linked with a strong element of understanding the range of
social/economic impacts of this variability.
Perhaps looking at aspects such as avalanches, forest damage, floods, tourism etc.? I
merely put this out as a straw man . I feel the EC are putting a lot of emphasis on this
aspect of research and incorporating research and researchers in these or similar areas
will be a big plus.
As for the specific points in the brainstorming document -
The Dendro aspect :
I think it is essential to update the Alpine tree-ring chronologies that are available .
This is because they are a proven asset but many questions regarding tree-productivity
(in relation to observed 20th century climate variability) simply can not be addressed
without doing this. Many were collected over 20 years ago. The additional data would
then allow new processing techniques to be employed and vital questions concerning the
changing responses of tree-growth to explored. The most efficient way to do this is to
involve several groups working in the Alps , (Thank you for sending the Thesis by
Giorgio Strumia which is certainly a very impressive piece of work) I would think Rupert
Wimmer's group and the Birmensdorf group would be ideal (Fritz Schweingruber has retired
but Jan Esper has joined them in his place - I can ask them to be involved but this
depends on what the group here think are the priorities and how much we see as the
overall budget and institutional allocations). I should say here that I think we would
require money for a single person who could , if it is agreed, work on aspects of
tree-ring processing and relationships with climate in association with the other
tree-ring groups, but also work with the climate and model data , especially with a view
to exploring the statistical inter-relationships and dynamical associations between the
different climate data sets. There is also the French tree-ring group at Marseille?
Perhaps though not all need to partners - ALSO I am thinking of putting together a
European Tree-ring project (or suggesting it as part of a large European integrated
proxy study of Holocene variability) so if this happened there could be a link between
it (involving some of the groups mentioned) and this proposal. The Swiss might be
interested to produce selected site tree-ring density/updating which I think would be
very valuable and I will speak to them without commitment as you ask.
As for some of the climate analysis possibilities mentioned, I very much like the ideas
of detailed ,local climate comparisons with the larger CRU (and CRUder!) data. We are
very interested in the association between time dependence in the relationships between
circulation changes and changes in Temp. and Prec. Also changes in the nature of climate
seasonality , and also extreme events (frost frequency , drought, intense rainfall). The
detailed analyses of these characteristics also compliments the interpretational work on
the tree-ring and glacier mass balance (and socio economic foci) data.
As for the glacier work - is not a huge effort already going into this? I think it is
important but does it fit as well ? The work proposed would have to be distinguished
from other ongoing efforts - though I do like the idea of linking the geomorphological
evidence of past glacier change (moraines , pro-glacial sediment data?) with
reconstructed glacier volume changes , where the reconstructions are based on new long
instrumental data , and palaeodata (temp. and precip.) used to drive a model of the
glacier volume. Our German (or Julie) colleagues can point to such work based on GCM
output . My colleague here (Sarah Raper) has also done this sort of work but using a
very simple model to estimate past Storglaciaren (in Sweden) volume changes and her
results imply that these models must be forward driven and not based on simple
regression analysis using temperature and precipitation to estimate past mass balance.
The future aspects of the discussion are important - and it is true that the previous EC
call dealt with modelling and scenarios of future changes. Here, I believe the use of
models should be strictly limited to understanding natural /current variability and
change. There is no benefit in going for a 2 year project - I strongly urge 3. I also
would find a meeting difficult. I am away from 17-29 July, and 11-25 August, and in
meetings during 7-10th July and 26-31st August.
Phil will be back here next week and will no doubt comment in more detail on the
instrumental analysis aspects then.
Very best wishes to all
At 05:13 PM 6/25/01 +0200, Dr. Reinhard B�hm wrote:


As announced last Friday, we want to open a first round of brainstorming about the
contents of our project. We have collected what we have received from You so far and
have it mixed with our own ideas (file Brainstorming-1.doc). It does not have a nice
structure and there are still a number of question marks, as You will see.
Please add things where you think something is missing and please feel free to tell us
which points make no sense, or are too ambitious or simply too much work.
Please consider also the "how to do it" (state of the art methods, new approaches to
solve problems, other data than those mentioned, other topics.....).
Please try also to find Your position in the project, tell us what You would prefer to
Please try to consider whether we would have to include other groups in terms of
scientific potential and/or in terms of data (For example: Keith Briffa you mentioned
Fritz Schweingruber as the leading data holder of Alpine tree-ring data. Do you think we
should ask him to join us, or could You use his data also without him being a contractor
of the project? In case You want him in the project could we kindly ask you to contact
him, being much more familiar with him and with the tree-ring topic than we are?)

We would be glad to receive a very short answer from everybody within this week, because
from June 30th to July 15th all the three of us will not be at the institute.
For more detailed considerations and answers You have more time, it would be nice to be
able to study them after our return by mid of July. But please use also the
possibilities to contact the other groups - the sooner we integrate to a group the
better it is.

Our time-table for the rest of the time until October:

July 16th to August 14th: We are at the institute, hoping to bring the project into a
near to final version what concerns the scientific content

August 15th to August 28th: Ice core conference at Kangerlussuaq (Greenland)

August 29th to September 17th: We are at the institute most of the time. We hope this
will be the time to elaborate the EU-shaped complete version.

September 18th to September 22nd: Big events going on in Vienna which may cut down our
time for the project (150th anniversary of our institute, Climate conference DACH-2001
(in German))

September 24th to October: Time reserved for all the things that could not be done yet
in spite of our time table

Could each of You please inform us about Your time table during summer and autumn?

A question to all of You: How do You think about one 2-days meeting this Summer or in
early September? What place do You prefer? If it is Austria we would have two low cost
possibilities: 1): at our institute and 2) (more adventurous): At the
Sonnblick-observatory (You do not have to have Alpinistic experience, we have a private
cable car going up)

Some remaining questions:

Should we try a 2-years or a 3-years project?

Can everybody live with roughly 300.000 Euro (This would result into somewhere between
1.5 and two millions, which we heard is a magnitude preferred by the commission). Please
consider not only the sum of money but also how to spend it and how to fill it with a
reasonable equivalent in work amount.

What is your feeling about the "Climate variability atlas of the Alps"? Is it good to
have one main deliverable like that or should we better produce a number of smaller

One last technical remark: Please send your comments and mails not only to Vienna, but
also to the other groups (or at least to those You believe would be interested in what
You write). I do not think this would spoil too much our mail boxes and it has the
advantage to include the whole intellectual power of our group into the construction
phase of the proposal.

Looking forward to Your replies, ideas, time tables and anything else

With best regards


Dr. Keith Briffa, Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia,
Norwich, NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
Phone: +44-1603-593909 Fax: +44-1603-507784

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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