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Developing a toolkit for model evaluation using speleothem isotope data

Developing a toolkit for model evaluation using speleothem isotope data


This research has been carried under the Geological Survey Ireland 2017 Short Call. This call provided funding for researchers in academia or industry on the island of Ireland for projects of less than 12 months duration and less than €25,000. 

Please note that the final report has been redacted to remove staff, financial and sensitive information. Some file sizes have been reduced to allow easier uploading/downloading, higher quality files are available on request. Supplemental information is also available on request in most cases. Please contact research[AT]

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and not of Geological Survey Ireland or the Department of Climate Action, Communications and Environment.

Lead Applicant: Dr Laia Comas Bru

Host: University College Dublin 

Project Title: Developing a toolkit for model evaluation using speleothem isotope data

Project Description: Speleothems (cave carbonates) provide highly resolved records with the potential to reconstruct
past changes in mean regional climate and climate variability on annual to millennial timescales.  Some climate models now explicitly include isotopic tracers, and thus the isotopic records from speleothems can be used directly for model evaluation. There are 500+ published speleothem records covering part or all of the last 21,000 years and beyond. However, only 7 speleothems are included in the standard Paleoclimate Modelling Inter comparison Project (PMIP) benchmark dataset. To address this issue, the applicant recently obtained sponsorship from PAGES (Past Global Changes) to create a Working Group, the objective of which is to synthesize the 500+ speleothem records available globally and to develop a public-access database that will feed the next round of CMIP6-PMIP4 simulations and eventually the next IPCC report. Such a database (the first for speleothems) can also be used to refine our understanding of regional changes in climate forcings through time, which is crucial in model evaluation.

One of the applicant's interests is to use this dataset to assess if speleothem records can improve model performance through data-assimilation techniques with a view to submitting further grant proposals to support her future work.