A Dynamical Perspective on High Altitude Paleoclimate Proxy Timeseries

  • Keith Alverson
  • Christoph Kull
  • G. W. K. Moore
  • Patrick Ginot
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 23)


Mountain paleoarchives, including glaciers, laminated lake sediments, and trees near the limits of their habitable range, provide much information relevant to the study of past climatic changes (Alverson and Kull 2002). Properties recorded in these archives offer quantitative climate-related information at annual or higher temporal resolution. In addition, by nature of their occurrence at high elevation, they provide information about climate variability in the free atmosphere, not just its surface expression. However, interpreting these proxy records in terms of large-scale climatic change is a difficult task. Mountains are generally regions of strong climatic gradients and inherently high natural variability, making interpretation of local records difficult. Additional difficulties exist due to the fact that the proxies do not respond to climate alone, but are influenced by myriad additional factors. In this chapter, we highlight two methods which use dynamical constraints, either from the climate system or the underlying archives themselves, to help tease out the climatic information contained in point-based proxy timeseries. Although the examples that we present are applied in conjunction with ice core records, the techniques are relevant to the interpretation of annually resolved climate proxy timeseries in high altitude regions. Past climatic changes are often either reconstructed using paleoproxy data or modeled using a numerical representation of the underlying dynamics of either the climate system or paleoarchive development.


Cerro Tapado Ice core Mount Logan Paleoclimate Reanalysis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alverson, K., Bradley, R., and Pedersen, T., Eds. (2002). “Paleoclimate, global change and the future.” IGBP Book Series, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  2. Alverson, K., and Kuli, C. (2002). Understanding future climate change using paleorecords. In “Global climate: Current research and uncertainties in the climate system.” (X. Rodó, and F. A. Comín, Eds.), pp. 153–185. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  3. Alverson, K., and Oldfield, F. (2000). PAGES — Past global changes and their significance for the future: An introduction. Quaternary Science Reviews 19, 3–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ginot, P., Kull, C., Schwikowski, M., Schotterer, U., and Gäggeler, H. W. (2001). Effects of postdepositional processes on snow composition of a subtropical glacier (Cerro Tapado, Chilean Andes). Journal of Geophysical Research 106, 32375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Kull, C., and Grosjean, M. (2000). Late Pleistocene climate conditions in the North Chilean Andes drawn from a climate-glacier model. Journal of Glaciology 46, 622–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kull, C., Grosjean, M., and Veit, H. (2002). Modeling Modern and Late Pleistocene glacio-climatological conditions in the North Chilean Andes (29°S – 30°S). Climatic Change 52, 359–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Moore, G. W. K., Holdsworth, G., and Alverson, K. (2001). Extra-tropical response to ENSO 1736–1985 as expressed in an ice core from the Saint Elias mountain range in northwestern North America. Geophysical Research Letters 28, 3457–3461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Moore, G. W. K., Holdsworth, G., and Alverson, K. (2002). Climate change in the North Pacific region over the last three centuries. Nature 420, 401–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Moore, G. W. K., Alverson, K., and Holdsworth, G. (2003). On the effect that elevation has on the ENSO related climate signal contained in precipitation records from northwestern North America. Climatic Change (in press).Google Scholar
  10. Schotterer, U., Grosjean, M., Stichler, W., Ginot, P., Kull, C., Francou, B., Gäggeler, H., Gallaire, R., Hoffmann, G., Pouyaud, B., and Schwikowski, M. (2003). Glaciers and climate in the Andes between the Equator and 30°S: What is recorded under extreme environmental conditions? Climatic Change (submitted).Google Scholar
  11. Stichler, W., Schotterer, U., Fröhlich, K., Ginot, P., Kull, C., Gäggeler, H., and Pouyaud, B. (2001). Influence of sublimation on stable isotope records recovered from high-altitude glaciers in the tropical Andes. Journal of Geophysical Research 106, 22613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Alverson
    • 1
  • Christoph Kull
    • 1
  • G. W. K. Moore
    • 2
  • Patrick Ginot
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.PAGES International Project OfficeBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.University of BernBernSwitzerland
  4. 4.Paul Scherrer InstituteVilligen PSISwitzerland

Personalised recommendations