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      Reconstructed changes in Arctic sea ice over the past 1,450 years.

      Nature
      Arctic Regions, Atmosphere, Geologic Sediments, chemistry, Global Warming, statistics & numerical data, History, 15th Century, History, 16th Century, History, 17th Century, History, 18th Century, History, 19th Century, History, 20th Century, History, 21st Century, History, Ancient, History, Medieval, Human Activities, Ice Cover, Reproducibility of Results, Seasons, Seawater

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          Abstract

          Arctic sea ice extent is now more than two million square kilometres less than it was in the late twentieth century, with important consequences for the climate, the ocean and traditional lifestyles in the Arctic. Although observations show a more or less continuous decline for the past four or five decades, there are few long-term records with which to assess natural sea ice variability. Until now, the question of whether or not current trends are potentially anomalous has therefore remained unanswerable. Here we use a network of high-resolution terrestrial proxies from the circum-Arctic region to reconstruct past extents of summer sea ice, and show that-although extensive uncertainties remain, especially before the sixteenth century-both the duration and magnitude of the current decline in sea ice seem to be unprecedented for the past 1,450 years. Enhanced advection of warm Atlantic water to the Arctic seems to be the main factor driving the decline of sea ice extent on multidecadal timescales, and may result from nonlinear feedbacks between sea ice and the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. These results reinforce the assertion that sea ice is an active component of Arctic climate variability and that the recent decrease in summer Arctic sea ice is consistent with anthropogenically forced warming. ©2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

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          European seasonal and annual temperature variability, trends, and extremes since 1500.

          Multiproxy reconstructions of monthly and seasonal surface temperature fields for Europe back to 1500 show that the late 20th- and early 21st-century European climate is very likely (>95% confidence level) warmer than that of any time during the past 500 years. This agrees with findings for the entire Northern Hemisphere. European winter average temperatures during the period 1500 to 1900 were reduced by approximately 0.5 degrees C (0.25 degrees C for annual mean temperatures) compared to the 20th century. Summer temperatures did not experience systematic century-scale cooling relative to present conditions. The coldest European winter was 1708/1709; 2003 was by far the hottest summer.
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            Persistent positive North Atlantic oscillation mode dominated the Medieval Climate Anomaly.

            The Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) was the most recent pre-industrial era warm interval of European climate, yet its driving mechanisms remain uncertain. We present here a 947-year-long multidecadal North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) reconstruction and find a persistent positive NAO during the MCA. Supplementary reconstructions based on climate model results and proxy data indicate a clear shift to weaker NAO conditions into the Little Ice Age (LIA). Globally distributed proxy data suggest that this NAO shift is one aspect of a global MCA-LIA climate transition that probably was coupled to prevailing La Niña-like conditions amplified by an intensified Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during the MCA.
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              Recent warming reverses long-term arctic cooling.

              The temperature history of the first millennium C.E. is sparsely documented, especially in the Arctic. We present a synthesis of decadally resolved proxy temperature records from poleward of 60 degrees N covering the past 2000 years, which indicates that a pervasive cooling in progress 2000 years ago continued through the Middle Ages and into the Little Ice Age. A 2000-year transient climate simulation with the Community Climate System Model shows the same temperature sensitivity to changes in insolation as does our proxy reconstruction, supporting the inference that this long-term trend was caused by the steady orbitally driven reduction in summer insolation. The cooling trend was reversed during the 20th century, with four of the five warmest decades of our 2000-year-long reconstruction occurring between 1950 and 2000.
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