SPACE determines and uses the space-time structure of climate change from years to millennia to test climate models, fundamentally improve the understanding of climate variability and provide a stronger basis for the quantitative use of paleoclimate records. The instrumental record is only a snapshot of our climate record. Two recent advances allow a deeper use of the paleo-record: (1) the increased availability and number of paleoclimate records and (2) major advances in the understanding of climate proxies (see also the ECUS project). We recently showed (see Laepple and Huybers, 2014, PNAS) that consistent estimates of regional temperature variability across instruments and proxies can now be obtained by inverting the process by which nature is sampled by proxies.
Empirical evidence and physics suggest an intrinsic link between the time scale and the associated spatial scale of climate variations: While fast variations such as weather are regional, glacial-interglacial cycles appear to be globally coherent. SPACE will quantify this presumed tendency of the climate system to reduce its degrees of freedom on longer time scales, and use it to constrain the sparse, noisy and at times contradictory evidence of past climate changes. This will provide a key step forward in transforming paleoclimate science from describing data to using the data as a quantitative test for models and system understanding in order to see more clearly into the future.
For further information, see: Earth System Diagnostics