TN05-17 is by far the most influential Southern Hemisphere core in Marcott et al 2013- it’s Marcott’s YAD061, so to speak. Its influence is much enhanced by the interaction of short-segment centering in the mid-Holocene and non-robustness in the modern period. Marcott’s SHX reconstruction becomes worthless well before the 20th century, a point that they have not yet admitted, let alone volunteered.
Marcott’s TN05-17 series is a bit of an odd duck within his dataset. It is the only ocean core in which the temperature is estimated by Modern Analogue Technique on diatoms; only one other ocean core uses Modern Antalogue Technique (MD79-257). The significance of this core was spotted early on by ^.
TN05-17 is plotted below. Rather unusually among Holocene proxies, its mid-Holocene values are very cold. Centering on 4500-5500 BP in Marcott style results in this proxy having very high anomalies in the modern period: closing at a Yamalian apparent anomaly of over 4 deg C.
In the most recent portion of the Marcott SHX, there are 5 or fewer series, as compared to 12 in the mid-Holocene. Had the data been centered on the most recent millennium and extended back (e.g. Hansen’s reference station method is a lowbrow method), then there would have been an extreme negative contribution from TN05-17 in the mid-Holocene, but its contribution to the average would have been less (divided by 12, instead of 4). As shown below, TN05-17 pretty much by itself contributes the positive recent values of the SHX reconstruction. It’s closing anomaly (basis 4500-5500 BP) is 4.01 deg. There are 4 contributing series – so the contribution of TN05-17 to the SHX composite in 1940 is 4.01/4, more than the actual SHX value. The entire increase in the Marcott SHX from at least 1800AD on arises from increased influence of TN05-17 – the phenomenon pointed out in my post on upticks.
Figure 2. Contribution of TN05-17 to the Marcott SHX reconstruction.
Given the overwhelming importance of this proxy, one would like to know a little more about it. The next graphic compares TN05-17 to two other SHX proxies, also MAT proxies but from small lakes in southern New Zealand. The inconsistency of the proxies is evident. The New Zealand paleolimnological proxies have nothing resembling the mid-Holocene “cold period” that characterizes TN05-17. One thing that this graphic shows for sure: the residuals of these proxies from the “true” temperature history as translated to the respective sites do not remotely resemble a low-order AR1 process. To properly model the error distribution, one has to have an error model that permits excursions for millennia – not at all easy to specify.
It appears highly probable that there is some confounding influence on TN05-17. TN05-17 was cored in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean south of Africa. As shown in the graphic below, it is located in very large scale “sediment drifts”.
Nielsen et al 2004 observed that the alkenone temperatures of the most recent samples are several degrees higher than ocean temperatures in the area. They speculated that some of the coretop might be missing – not particularly reassuring when this proxy is the most important contributor not just to 20th century SHX Marcott warming but 19th century SHX Marcott warming. There is occasional discussion in specialist literature of circumstances in which alkenone temperatures are warmer than local ocean temperatures e.g. Ruhlemann et al taking the alkenones from the warmer location in which they formed to the colder place where they settled:
We suggest that the southern samples are biased by suspended organic detritus originating from the cold subpolar waters of the northward flowing Malvinas Current, whereas the northern samples carry an UK’37 signal of tropical/
subtropical origin, transported southward with the Brazil Current. On the basis of surface ocean transport pathways and velocities simulated with the large-scale geostrophic (LSG) ocean general circulation model, we identify areas of the world ocean where alkenone temperatures are potentially biased to higher or lower values due to long particle residence times and lateral advection by surface currents.
The area studied by Ruhlemann et al was in the western South Atlantic between 30 and S. Could something similar be going in the eastern South Atlantic in the area of TN05-17 (50S, 6E) – seems entirely possible to me. There is convincing evidence that there have been secular changes in the Agulhas currents over the Holocene. The TN07-17 history certainly suggests secular changes to me: it looks like ocean currents have changed in this sector over the Holocene, such that alkenone drift (along the lines of the South American alkenone drift) has contributed to the warm values in the early Holocene and later Holocene, while colder currents were present in the mid-Holocene.
Whatever is right or wrong about Marcott et al, merely from a perspective of craftsmanship, it is not particularly reassuring that the main (Yad061 even) contribution to modern SHX warming in the Marcott reconstruction appears to arise from a “cold” mid-Holocene interval at TN05-17, translated into modern warming through short-segment mid-Holocene centering and modern proxy dropout.