Can we make better graphs of global temperature history?

Better graphs

While more realistic graphs of temperature and CO2 histories will not prevent the basic fallacy we started discussing from being propagated, I think people should be encouraged to use actual data to make their points so that at least rebuttals of any logical fallacies wouldn’t have to waste time arguing about the underlying data. Plus it is so much better to have figures that don’t need a week to decipher (see some more principles at Betterfigures.org).

Some better examples of long term climate change graphics do exist. This one from Veizer et al (2000) for instance (as rendered by Robert Rohde):

Phanerozoic Climate Change

IPCC AR4 made a collation for the Cenozoic (65 Mya ago to present):

IPCC AR4 Fig 6.1

and some editors at Wikipedia have made an attempt to produce a complete record for the Phanerozoic:

Wikipedia multi-period collation

But these collations are imperfect in many ways. On the last figure the time axis is a rather confusing mix of linear segments and logarithmic scaling, there is no calibration during overlap periods, and the scaling and baselining of the individual, differently sourced data is a little ad hoc. Wikipedia has figures for other time periods that have not been updated in years and treatment of uncertainties is haphazard (many originally from GlobalWarmingArt).

I think this could all be done better. However, creating good graphics takes time and some skill, especially when the sources of data are so disparate. So this might be usefully done using some crowd-sourcing – where we collectively gather the data that we can find, process it so that we have clean data, discuss ways to fit it together, and try out different plotting styles. The goal would be to come up with a set of coherent up-to-date (and updatable) figures that could become a new standard for representing the temperature history of the planet. Thus…

The world temperature history challenge

The challenge comes in three parts:

  1. Finding suitable data
  2. Combining different data sets appropriately
  3. Graphically rendering the data

Each part requires work which could be spread widely across the participants. I have made a start on collating links to suitable data sets, and this can both be expanded upon and consolidated.

Period

Reference

Data download

0-600 Mya

Veizer et al (2000), Royer et al (2004) (updated Royer (2014))

Veizer d180, Royer04 Temp, Royer14 CO2

0-65 Mya

Zachos et al (2008), Hansen et al (2010)

Zachos/Hansen

0-5.3 Mya

Lisiecki and Raymo (2005)

LR04 Stack

0-800 kya

EPICA Dome C

Temperature Reconstruction

0-125 kya

NGRIP/Antarctic analog?

NGRIP 50yr

0-12 kya

Marcott et al (2013)

MEA12 stack (xls)

0-2 kya

Mann et al (2008), Ljungqvist (2010)

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References

  1. J. Veizer, Y. Godderis, and L.M. François, "", Nature, vol. 408, pp. 698-701, 2000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/35047044
  2. D.L. Royer, R.A. Berner, I.P. Montañez, N.J. Tabor, and D.J. Beerling, "CO2 as a primary driver of Phanerozoic climate", GSA Today, vol. 14, pp. 4, 2004. http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/1052-5173(2004)014<4:CAAPDO>2.0.CO;2
  3. D. Royer, "Atmospheric CO2 and O2 During the Phanerozoic: Tools, Patterns, and Impacts", Treatise on Geochemistry, pp. 251-267, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-095975-7.01311-5
  4. L.E. Lisiecki, and M.E. Raymo, "A Pliocene-Pleistocene stack of 57 globally distributed benthic δ18O records", Paleoceanography, vol. 20, pp. n/a-n/a, 2005. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2004PA001071
  5. S.A. Marcott, J.D. Shakun, P.U. Clark, and A.C. Mix, "A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years", Science, vol. 339, pp. 1198-1201, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1228026
  6. M.E. Mann, Z. Zhang, M.K. Hughes, R.S. Bradley, S.K. Miller, S. Rutherford, and F. Ni, "Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 105, pp. 13252-13257, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0805721105
  7. F.C. LJUNGQVIST, "A NEW RECONSTRUCTION OF TEMPERATURE VARIABILITY IN THE EXTRA-TROPICAL NORTHERN HEMISPHERE DURING THE LAST TWO MILLENNIA", Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography, vol. 92, pp. 339-351, 2010. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0459.2010.00399.x