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Keywords:

  • Temperature reconstructions;
  • temperature variability;
  • Medieval Warm Period;
  • Little Ice Age;
  • Roman Warm Period;
  • Dark Age Cold Period;
  • global warming;
  • climate change

ABSTRACT.

A new temperature reconstruction with decadal resolution, covering the last two millennia, is presented for the extratropical Northern Hemisphere (90–30°N), utilizing many palaeo-temperature proxy records never previously included in any large-scale temperature reconstruction. The amplitude of the reconstructed temperature variability on centennial time-scales exceeds 0.6°C. This reconstruction is the first to show a distinct Roman Warm Period c. ad 1–300, reaching up to the 1961–1990 mean temperature level, followed by the Dark Age Cold Period c. ad 300–800. The Medieval Warm Period is seen c. ad 800–1300 and the Little Ice Age is clearly visible c. ad 1300–1900, followed by a rapid temperature increase in the twentieth century. The highest average temperatures in the reconstruction are encountered in the mid to late tenth century and the lowest in the late seventeenth century. Decadal mean temperatures seem to have reached or exceeded the 1961–1990 mean temperature level during substantial parts of the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period. The temperature of the last two decades, however, is possibly higher than during any previous time in the past two millennia, although this is only seen in the instrumental temperature data and not in the multi-proxy reconstruction itself. Our temperature reconstruction agrees well with the reconstructions by Moberg et al. (2005) and Mann et al. (2008) with regard to the amplitude of the variability as well as the timing of warm and cold periods, except for the period c. ad 300–800, despite significant differences in both data coverage and methodology.