This paper presents a comparison of principal component (PC) regression and regularized expectation maximization (RegEM) to reconstruct European summer and winter surface air temperature over the past millennium. Reconstruction is performed within a surrogate climate using the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Climate System Model (CSM) 1.4 and the climate model ECHO-G 4, assuming different white and red noise scenarios to define the distortion of pseudoproxy series. We show how sensitivity tests lead to valuable “a priori” information that provides a basis for improving real world proxy reconstructions. Our results emphasize the need to carefully test and evaluate reconstruction techniques with respect to the temporal resolution and the spatial scale they are applied to. Furthermore, we demonstrate that uncertainties inherent to the predictand and predictor data have to be more rigorously taken into account. The comparison of the two statistical techniques, in the specific experimental setting presented here, indicates that more skilful results are achieved with RegEM as low frequency variability is better preserved. We further detect seasonal differences in reconstruction skill for the continental scale, as e.g. the target temperature average is more adequately reconstructed for summer than for winter. For the specific predictor network given in this paper, both techniques underestimate the target temperature variations to an increasing extent as more noise is added to the signal, albeit RegEM less than with PC regression. We conclude that climate field reconstruction techniques can be improved and need to be further optimized in future applications.
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