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NECLIME strongly encourages the use of quantitative paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental reconstruction methods to enable multi-proxy comparisons as well as validations of model studies. To achieve this goal, NECLIME focuses on selected tools to facilitate large-scale analyses. In this regard, NECLIME is also strongly interested in developing new and improving well-established techniques.
The following methods are the basis of many research initiatives within the NECLIME network.

Plant-based methods for climate quantification

Coexistence Approach
The Coexistence Approach is a method for quantitative terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions for Cenozoic paleobotanical records. It is based on the assumption fossil plant taxa have similar climatic requirements as their nearest living relatives and can therefore be extrapolated to interpret past conditions. The aim of the Coexistence Approach is to outline a climatic interval for a given fossil flora and a selected climatic parameter, in which all nearest living relatives of the fossil flora can coexist. This method is suitable for all sorts of plant remains.
(Mosbrugger and Utescher 1997, Utescher et al. 2014)

CLAMP - Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program
CLAMP is a method of obtaining ancient climate information from the architecture (physiognomy) of fossil leaves of woody dicot flowering plants. It is a multivariate statistical technique decoding the climatic signal inherent in the physiognomy of leaves of woody dicotyledonous plants. CLAMP calibrates the numerical relations between leaf physiognomy and meteorological parameters in modern terrestrial environments. Using this calibration, past climatic data are potentially determinable from leaf fossil assemblages provided that the calibration is robust over time and that the sampling of the fossil assemblage represents well the characteristics of the living source vegetation.
(Wolfe 1990, Spicer et al. 2009)
More details here

Plant-based methods for vegetation quantification

PFT – Plant Functional Types
The PFT (Plant Functional Type) Approach aims at reconstructing regional biomes using fossil plant assemblages. The biomisation procedures introduced by Prentice et al. (1996) and Ni et al. (2010) are restricted to pollen data, whereas the approach of François et al. (2011) can be applied to all plant organs. The assignment of PFTs to fossil taxa according to their botanical affinities allows for the abstraction from taxonomy to universal plant traits. On this basis, the PFT Approach provides information on diversity of plant functional types at each studied site, moreover, a likelihood level of presence, as well as a diversity index can be calculated (François et al. 2017). PFT level vegetation reconstruction has the advantage of being easily comparable with the results of vegetation models.

PCS – Plant Community Scenarios
Plant Community Scenarios (PCS) represent an approach for depicting the quantitative representation of different taxa in fossil plant assemblages (mainly developed for carpological deposits), whose interpretation is considered useful for vegetation reconstruction. Based on relative abundances of taxa, the visualization uses pre-defined plant symbols representing a group of taxa, which share the same leaf type category, plant habitus, and habitat to draw an image similar to transects of extant vegetation with different ecological zones.
(Martinetto and Vassio 2010)

IPR – Integrated Plant Record vegetation analysis
The Integrated Plant Record vegetation analysis (IPR-vegetation analysis) is a tool for reconstructing zonal plant cover and palaeoenvironments in the Cenozoic by integrating foliar, carpological and pollen data. An internet platform provides open access to the IPR-database and a calculation tool to apply the analysis can be found online.
(Kovar-Eder and Kvacek 2003, Teodoridis et al. 2011).
More details here.

Earth system modelling

Modelling of past states of the Earth system is crucial to understand processes behind patterns reconstructed from fossil proxy records. Moreover, the possibility of validating the outputs obtained from paleo-modelling with proxy data holds the key for assessing the reliability of anticipated climate change scenarios. Following the standard of the IPCC, results from multi-model approaches in the meantime have become available for various Cenozoic time slices.
Since within the past two decades, NECLIME research brought about a considerable repository of quantitative climate and vegetation data for the continental Cenozoic, modelling has been in the focus of NECLIME right from the beginning. Among others, various atmospheric modelling studies have been conducted in the frame of the network (e.g. Steppuhn et al. 2007; Micheels et al. 2011; Schneck et al. 2012). Another emphasis was put on Neogene biome reconstructions using e.g. the CARAIB dynamic vegetation model (e.g. François et al. 2017; Henrot et al. 2017) and vegetation simulations using the DGVM LPJ-GUESS (Forrest et al. 2015). Moreover, NECLIME members are involved in model inter-comparison projects such as PlioMIP (e.g., Salzmann et al., 2013).


To be considered for NECLIME publications
Definition of relevant botanical terms and vegetation units
by Johanna Kovar-Eder, Jean-Pierre Suc and Zlatko Kvacek (2008)


Forrest, M., Eronen, J.T., Utescher, T., Knorr, G., Stepanek, C., Lohmann, G., Hickler, T., 2015. Climate-vegetation modelling and fossil plant data suggest low atmospheric CO₂ in the late Miocene. Climate of the Past, 11, 1701 –1732. DOI 10.5194/cp-11-1701-2015

François, L., Bruch, A.A., Utescher, T., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T., 2017. Reconstructing Cenozoic vegetation from proxy data and models – a NECLIME synthesis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 467, 1–286. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.11.043

François, L., Utescher, T., Favre, E., Henrot, A.-J., Warnant, P., Micheels, A., Erdei, B., Suc, J.-P., Cheddadi, R., Mosbrugger, V., 2011. Modelling Late Miocene vegetation in Europe: Results of the CARAIB model and comparison with palaeovegetation data. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 304, 359–378. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.01.012

Henrot, A.-J., Utescher, T., Erdei, B., Dury, M., Hamon, N., Ramstein, G., Krapp, M., Herold, N., Goldner, A., Favre, E., Munhoven, G., François, L.M., 2017. Middle Miocene climate and vegetation models and their validation with proxy data. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 467, 95–119. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.05.026

Kovar-Eder, J., Kvacek, Z., 2003. Towards vegetation mapping based on the fossil plant record. Acta Universitatis Carolinae Geologica, 46, 7–13. pdf at researchgate

Martinetto, E., Vassio, E., 2010. Reconstructing “Plant Community Scenarios” by means of palaeocarpological data from the CENOFITA database, with an example from the Ca' Viettone site (Pliocene, Northern Italy). Quaternary International, 225, 25 –36. DOI 10.1016/j.quaint.2009.08.020

Micheels, A., Bruch, A. A., Eronen, J., Fortelius, M., Harzhauser, M., Utescher, T., Mosbrugger, V., 2011. Analysis of heat transport mechanisms from a Late Miocene model experiment with a fully-coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 304, 337 –350. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.09.021

Mosbrugger, V., Utescher, T., 1997. The Coexistence Approach - a method for quantitative reconstructions of Tertiary terrestrial palaeoclimate data using plant fossils. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 134, 61 –86. DOI 10.1016/S0031-0182(96)00154-X

Ni, J., Yu, G., Harrison, S.P., Prentice, I.C., 2010. Palaeovegetation in China during the late Quaternary: biome reconstructions based on a global scheme of plant functional types. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 289, 44 –61. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.02.008

Prentice, I.C., Guiot, J., Huntley, B., Jolly, D., Cheddadi, R., 1996. Reconstructing biomes from palaeoecological data: a general method and its application to European pollen data at 0 and 6 ka. Climate Dynamics, 12, 185 –194. DOI 10.1007/BF00211617

Salzmann, U., Dolan, A. M., Haywood, A. M., Chan, W. -L., Voss, J., Hill, D. J., … Zhang, Z., 2013. Challenges in quantifying Pliocene terrestrial warming revealed by data-model discord. Nature Climate Change, 3, 969-974.

Schneck, R., Micheels, A., Mosbrugger, V., 2012. Climate impact of high northern vegetation: Late Miocene and present. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 101, 323 –338. DOI 10.1007/s00531-011-0652-4

Spicer, R.A., Valdes, P.J., Spicer, T.E.V., Craggs, H.J., Srivastava, G., Mehrotra, R.C., Yang, J., 2009. New Developments in CLAMP: Calibration using global gridded meteorological data. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 283, 91 –98. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.09.009

Steppuhn, A., Micheels, A., Bruch, A.A., Uhl, D., Utescher, T., Mosbrugger, V., 2007. The sensitivity of ECHAM4/ML to a double CO₂ scenario for the Late Miocene and the comparison to terrestrial proxy data. Global and Planetary Change, 57, 189 –212. DOI 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2006.09.003

Teodoridis, V., Kovar-Eder, J., Mazouch, P. 2011. The IPR-vegetation analysis applied to modern vegetation in SE China and Japan. PALAIOS, 26, 623 –638. DOI 10.2110/palo.2010.p10-149r

Utescher, T., Bruch, A.A., Erdei, B., François, L., Ivanov, D., Jacques, F.M.B., Kern, A.K., Liu, Y.-S. (C.), Mosbrugger, V., Spicer, R.A., 2014. The Coexistence Approach—Theoretical background and practical considerations of using plant fossils for climate quantification. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 410, 58–73. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.05.031

Wolfe, J.A., 1990. Palaeobotanical evidence for a marked temperature increase following the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. Nature, 343, 153–156. DOI 10.1038/343153a0

© T. Utescher

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