The 1000-year climatic and environmental history of the Earth contained in various proxyrecords is examined. As indicators, the proxies duly represent or record aspects of localclimate. Questions on the relevance and validity of the locality paradigm forclimatological research become sharper as studies of climatic changes on timescales of50–100 years or longer are pursued. This is because thermal and dynamical constraintsimposed by local geography become increasingly important as the air-sea-land interactionand coupling timescales increase. Because the nature of the various proxy climateindicators are so different, the results cannot be combined into a simple hemispheric orglobal quantitative composite. However, considered as an ensemble of individualobservations, an assemblage of the local representations of climate establishes thereality of both the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period as climatic anomalies withworld-wide imprints, extending earlier results by Bryson et al. (1963), Lamb (1965), andnumerous other research efforts. Furthermore, these individual proxies are used todetermine whether the 20th century is the warmest century of the 2nd Millennium at avariety of globally dispersed locations. Many records reveal that the 20th century islikely not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the lastmillennium, although it is clear that human activity has significantly impacted some localenvironments.
Energy & Environment – SAGE
Published: May 1, 2003
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