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Major themes | Theme 2 | PalaeoQUMP

PalaeoQUMP: Using palaeodata to reduce uncertainties in climate prediction

PalaeoQUMP was headed by Prof Sandy Harrison of the University of Bristol, with co-investigators at the University of Southampton and Durham University.

The IPCC estimates of climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 ranged from ~1.5 to 4.5°C, a range that creates difficulty in defining and tackling "dangerous" climate change. The DEFRA-funded project QUMP (Quantifying Uncertainties in Model Prediction) investigated the effects of parametrization on sensitivity by running a series of simulations of the modern climate, systematically altering parameter values and comparing them with observations. QUMP found that the constraints supplied by recent observations of climate did not reduce uncertainties in prediction.

PalaeoQUMP aimed to constrain climate sensitivity by using a wider range of derived climate observations from the geological past (reconstructions from sediments and geomorphological changes for the Last Glacial Maximum and the mid-Holocene period), to evaluate climate model predictions generated using the same series of simulations as QUMP produced for the modern climate. The mid-Holocene and Last Glacial Maximum reconstructions have been completed, and robust patterns evident in the data sets are being used as benchmarks and targets for the IPCC assessment report 5 palaeoclimate simulations. However the objective of using this data for an improved understanding of past climate to better constrain climate sensitivity has not yet been fully achieved.