List of large-scale temperature reconstructions of the last 2,000 years

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This list of large-scale temperature reconstructions of the last 2,000 years includes climate reconstructions which have contributed significantly to the modern consensus on the temperature record of the past 2,000 years.

The instrumental temperature record only covers the last 150 years at a hemispheric or global scale, and reconstructions of earlier periods are based on climate proxies. In an early attempt to show that climate had changed, Hubert Lamb's 1965 paper generalised from temperature records of central England together with historical, botanical, and archeological evidence to produce a qualitative estimate of temperatures in the North Atlantic region. Subsequent quantitative reconstructions used statistical techniques with various climate proxies to produce larger-scale reconstructions. Tree ring proxies can give an annual resolution of extratropical regions of the northern hemisphere and can be statistically combined with other sparser proxies to produce multiproxy hemispherical or global reconstructions.

Quantitative reconstructions have consistently shown earlier temperatures below the temperature levels reached in the late 20th century. This pattern as seen in Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1999 was dubbed the hockey stick graph, and as of 2010 this broad conclusion was supported by more than two dozen reconstructions, using various statistical methods and combinations of proxy records, with variations in how flat the pre-20th century "shaft" appears.[1]

List of reconstructions in order of publication[edit]

  • Huntington 1915 “Civilization and Climate”.
  • Lamb 1965 "The early medieval warm epoch and its sequel".
  • Groveman & Landsberg 1979 "Simulated northern hemisphere temperature departures 1579–1880".
  • Jacoby & D'Arrigo 1989 "Reconstructed Northern Hemisphere annual temperature since 1671 based on high-latitude tree-ring data from North America".
  • Bradley & Jones 1993 "Little Ice Age summer temperature variations; their nature and relevance to recent global warming trends".
  • Hughes & Diaz 1994 "Was there a ‘medieval warm period’, and if so, where and when?".
  • Mann, Park & Bradley 1995 "Global interdecadal and century-scale climate oscillations during the past five centuries".
  • Overpeck et al. 1997 "Arctic Environmental Change of the Last Four Centuries".
  • Fisher 1997 "High resolution reconstructed Northern Hemisphere temperatures for the last few centuries: using regional average tree ring, ice core and historical annual time series".

Cited in IPCC TAR[edit]

The IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR WG1) of 2001 cited the following reconstructions supporting its conclusion that the 1990s was likely to have been the warmest Northern Hemisphere decade for 1,000 years:[2]

  • Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1998 "Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries"
  • Jones et al. 1998 "High-resolution palaeoclimatic records for the last millennium: interpretation, integration and comparison with General Circulation Model control-run temperatures".
  • Pollack, Huang & Shen 1998 "Climate change record in subsurface temperatures: A global perspective".
  • Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1999 "Northern hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and limitations".
  • Briffa 2000 "Annual climate variability in the Holocene: interpreting the message of ancient trees".
  • Crowley & Lowery 2000 "How Warm Was the Medieval Warm Period?".

Cited in NRC Report (North Report)[edit]

North et al. 2006 highlighted six recent reconstructions, one of which was not cited in AR4:[3]

Cited in IPCC AR4[edit]

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4 WG1) of 2007 cited the following reconstructions in support of its conclusion that the 20th century was likely to have been the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere for at least 1,300 years:[4]

  • Jones et al. (1998) [also in TAR], calibrated by Jones, Osborn & Briffa 2001 "The Evolution of Climate Over the Last Millennium".
  • Mann, Bradley & Hughes (1999) [also in TAR]
  • Briffa (2000) [also in TAR], calibrated by Briffa, Osborn & Schweingruber 2004 "Large-scale temperature inferences from tree rings: a review".
  • Crowley & Lowery 2000 "How Warm Was the Medieval Warm Period?" [also in TAR]
  • Briffa et al. 2001 "Low-frequency temperature variations from a northern tree ring density network".
  • Esper, Cook & Schweingruber 2002 "Low-Frequency Signals in Long Tree-Ring Chronologies for Reconstructing Past Temperature Variability",
    recalibrated by Cook, Esper & D'Arrigo 2004 "Extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere land temperature variability over the past 1000 years".
  • Mann & Jones 2003 "Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia."
  • Pollack & Smerdon 2004 "Borehole climate reconstructions: Spatial structure and hemispheric averages".
  • Oerlemans 2005 "Extracting a climate signal from 169 glacier records".
  • Rutherford et al. 2005 "Proxy-based Northern Hemisphere surface temperature reconstructions: Sensitivity to method, predictor network, target season, and target domain".
  • Moberg et al. 2005 "Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data".
  • D'Arrigo, Wilson & Jacoby 2006 "On the long-term context for late twentieth century warming".
  • Osborn & Briffa 2006 "The spatial extent of 20th-century warmth in the context of the past 1200 years".
  • Hegerl et al. 2006 "Climate sensitivity constrained by temperature reconstructions over the past seven centuries".

Cited in IPCC AR5[edit]

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5 WG1) of 2013 examined temperature variations during the last two millennia, and cited the following reconstructions in support of its conclusion that for average annual Northern Hemisphere temperatures, "the period 1983–2012 was very likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 800 years (high confidence) and likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence)":[5]

  • Pollack and Smerdon (2004) [also in AR4]
  • Moberg et al. (2005) [also in AR4]
  • D'Arrigo, Wilson & Jacoby (2006) [also in AR4]
  • Frank, Esper & Cook (2007) "Adjustment for proxy number and coherence in a large-scale temperature reconstruction".
  • Hegerl et al. (2007) "Detection of human influence on a new, validated 1500–year temperature reconstruction".
  • Juckes et al. 2007 "Millennial temperature reconstruction intercomparison and evaluation".
  • Loehle & McCulloch (2008) "Correction to: A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-tree ring proxies".
  • Mann et al. 2008 "Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia".
  • Mann et al. 2009 "Global Signatures and Dynamical Origins of the Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly".
  • Ljungqvist 2010 "A New Reconstruction of Temperature Variability in the Extra-Tropical Northern Hemisphere During the Last Two Millennia".
  • Christiansen & Ljungqvist 2012 "The extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere temperature in the last two millennia: Reconstructions of low-frequency variability".
  • Leclercq & Oerlemans (2012) "Global and Hemispheric temperature reconstruction from glacier length fluctuations".
  • Shi et al. 2013 "Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction during the last millennium using multiple annual proxies".

Further reconstructions[edit]


References in chronological sequence[edit]


  • Huntington, E. (1915), Civilization and Climate, p. 341










  • Overpeck, J.; Hughen, K.; Hardy, R.; Bradley, R.; et al. (14 November 1997), "Arctic Environmental Change of the Last Four Centuries", Science, 278 (5341): 1251, Bibcode:1997Sci...278.1251O, CiteSeerX, doi:10.1126/science.278.5341.1251
  • Fisher, D. A. (1997), "High resolution reconstructed Northern Hemisphere temperatures for the last few centuries: using regional average tree ring, ice core and historical annual time series", Paper U32C-7 in Supplement to EOS. Transactions