Journal article

Statistical Uncertainty in Paleoclimate Proxy Reconstructions

HLO McClelland, I Halevy, DA Wolf-Gladrow, D Evans, AS Bradley



A quantitative analysis of any environment older than the instrumental record relies on proxies. Uncertainties associated with proxy reconstructions are often underestimated, which can lead to artificial conflict between different proxies, and between data and models. In this paper, using ordinary least squares linear regression as a common example, we describe a simple, robust and generalizable method for quantifying uncertainty in proxy reconstructions. We highlight the primary controls on the magnitude of uncertainty, and compare this simple estimate to equivalent estimates from Bayesian, nonparametric and fiducial statistical frameworks. We discuss when it may be possible to reduce uncer..

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Awarded by European Research Council

Awarded by US Department of Energy

Awarded by Simons Foundation

Funding Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Peter Crockford, Sylvia Dee, Allison Jacobel, Wil Leavitt, and Max Lloyd for comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. Thanks to three anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the manuscript. Thanks to Eli Tziperman for suggesting the nonparametric approach. H. McClelland acknowledges postdoctoral fellowships from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities. I. Halevy acknowledges a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (OOID No. 755053). A. S. Bradley acknowledges funding from the US Department of Energy (DE-SC0014613) and the Simons Foundation (622740).