The influence of decision-making in tree ring-based climate reconstructions

Ulf Büntgen, Kathy Allen, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Dominique Arseneault, Étienne Boucher, Achim Bräuning, Snigdhansu Chatterjee, Paolo Cherubini, Olga V. Churakova (Sidorova), Christophe Corona, Fabio Gennaretti, Jussi Grießinger, Sebastian Guillet, Joel Guiot, Björn Gunnarson, Samuli Helama, Philipp Hochreuther, Malcolm K. Hughes, Peter Huybers, Alexander V. KirdyanovPaul J. Krusic, Josef Ludescher, Wolfgang J.H. Meier, Vladimir S. Myglan, Kurt Nicolussi, Clive Oppenheimer, Frederick Reinig, Matthew W. Salzer, Kristina Seftigen, Alexander R. Stine, Markus Stoffel, Scott St. George, Ernesto Tejedor, Aleyda Trevino, Valerie Trouet, Jianglin Wang, Rob Wilson, Bao Yang, Guobao Xu, Jan Esper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Tree-ring chronologies underpin the majority of annually-resolved reconstructions of Common Era climate. However, they are derived using different datasets and techniques, the ramifications of which have hitherto been little explored. Here, we report the results of a double-blind experiment that yielded 15 Northern Hemisphere summer temperature reconstructions from a common network of regional tree-ring width datasets. Taken together as an ensemble, the Common Era reconstruction mean correlates with instrumental temperatures from 1794–2016 CE at 0.79 (p < 0.001), reveals summer cooling in the years following large volcanic eruptions, and exhibits strong warming since the 1980s. Differing in their mean, variance, amplitude, sensitivity, and persistence, the ensemble members demonstrate the influence of subjectivity in the reconstruction process. We therefore recommend the routine use of ensemble reconstruction approaches to provide a more consensual picture of past climate variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3411
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
R. Neukom kindly provided the re-scaled PAGES 2k data. U.B. and J.E. received funding from SustES: Adaptation strategies for sustainable ecosystem services and food security under adverse environmental conditions (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000797), and the ERC project MONOSTAR (AdG 882727). C.C., S.G. and M.S. received funding from the SNF Sinergia project CALDERA (project no. 183571). S.C. acknowledges support from US National Science Foundation grants 1737918, 1939916 and 1939956.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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