Discussion of: A statistical analysis of multiple temperature proxies: Are reconstructions of surface temperatures over the last 1000 years reliable?

Smerdon, Jason E.

McShane and Wyner [(2011); hereinafter MW11] reiterate a well-known and
central challenge of paleoclimatology: it is fraught with uncertainties and based
on noisy observations. Decades of research have aimed at characterizing these
uncertainties and interpreting proxies through laboratory experiments, field observations, theory, process-based modeling, cross-record comparisons, and indeed through statistical modeling and hypothesis testing. It is against this larger backdrop that the problem addressed by MW11 must be considered. Attempts to reconstruct global or hemispheric temperature indices and fields using multi-proxy
networks are an outgrowth of many efforts in paleoclimatology, but represent relatively recent pursuits in the field. They provide neither the principal scientific
evidence supporting climate-proxy connections, nor the most compelling, and the
inference by MW11 that their own findings demonstrate a widespread failure in
the predictive capacity of climate proxies is at odds with most other independent
lines of proxy research.


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Also Published In

Annals of Applied Statistics

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
August 10, 2011