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SISAL 4th workshop: Exploiting the SISALv2 database for evaluating climate processes

Xinzhou Shi, Shanxi Sheng, China
Workshop report
Contact person
Yassine Ait Brahim
E-Mail address
Working groups
Meeting Category

The PAGES' SISAL (Speleothem Isotopes Synthesis and Analysis) working group will hold its fourth workshop, titled "Exploiting the SISALv2 database for evaluating climate processes", from 14-17 October 2019 in Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.

There will probably be an outdoor activity on Friday 18 October (TBC).


Xi’an Jiaotong University


This workshop, for approximately 35 people, is for SISAL members involved in data-model comparisons. Climate modelers from the PMIP project interested in using the SISAL database will also be invited. In addition, we will offer places to scientists outside of the SISAL working group. The hosting organisation will invite ca. 10 ECRs from China who are interested in international collaboration and becoming involved in SISAL. The workshop is therefore envisaged as a mixture of training and analysis sessions.

Organizers would like to thank Past Global Changes (PAGES), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project number: NSFC 41888101 and 41942012) and Xi’an Jiaotong University for their financial support.


The Speleothem Isotopes Synthesis and Analysis (SISAL) working group brings together speleothem scientists, speleothem-process modelers, statisticians and climate modelers to develop a global synthesis of speleothem isotopes that can be used both to explore past climate changes and in model evaluation.

The first version of the SISAL database was published in 2018 (Atsawawaranunt et al. 2018) and creation of the second version is underway and will be ready by the time of the workshop. The primary goal of the fourth SISAL workshop is to use this database to evaluate isotope-enabled climate simulations for multiple different palaeoclimate intervals being run by members of the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP). Some of these simulations are CMIP6-PMIP4 experiments, others are PMIP-style simulations run by individual groups.

The evaluation of the CMIP6-PMIP4 entry card simulations (LGM, MH) will draw on the protocol paper about using SISAL for model evaluation that was discussed and worked on during the 3rd SISAL workshop (Comas Bru et al. submitted).

A second goal of the workshop is to provide training for young speleothem researchers on data compilation and analysis; this training will provide an opportunity to trial and further develop the SISAL handbook on data reporting. Most of the key speleothem records are from Asia and a large proportion of these are not yet in the SISAL database, unfortunately. This training part of the workshop will enable the creation of synergies with Chinese researchers so that this data is included in a future version of the database.


Day 1


Overview of SISAL working group activities, including presentation of version 2 of the database and SISAL analyses (including publications arising from the 3rd workshop).


Overview of PMIP isotope-enabled simulations. Show-and-tell by new participants, including presentations by the invited Chinese researchers.

Days 2 & 3


Discussion and design of data-model comparisons using the SISAL database and the climate model outputs.


Training stream: There will be a training stream for participants interested in becoming involved in SISAL activities or in using the SISAL database. This will involve hands-on work on data entry, quality control, querying the database (day 2) and analysing synthetic products and statistical analyses of isotope data using the SISAL database (day 3). The statistical analyses of day 3 will be fed by the morning discussions on potential analyses. This training stream will be led by Jun Hu.

Data-model comparison stream: Analysis sessions will be organised in terms of break-out groups, each focusing on a different time period (e.g. PMIP LGM and MH entry card simulations, Last Interglacial, Last Millennium, abrupt events during the glacial).

Day 4

Reports from analyses, discussions about planned work and publications during 2020. Time will be allocated to evaluate the first phase of the SISAL working group (February 2017 – February 2020) and to assess needs for further activities.

Day 5

There will probably be an outdoor activity on Friday 18 October (TBC).

Local organisers

- Yassine Ait Brahim (Xi’an Jiaotong University, China)

- Hai Cheng (Xi’an Jiaotong University, China)

- Haiwei Zhang (Xi’an Jiaotong University, China),

- Pu Zhang (Xi’an Jiaotong University, China)

- Gayatri Kathayat (Xi’an Jiaotong University, China)

- Carlos Pérez-Mejías (Xi’an Jiaotong University, China)

Financial support

Six places will be reserved for early-career researchers and researchers from developing countries. Details on how to apply for financial support are included in the expression of interest/registration form below.


Expressions of interest to register for the workshop are due by 31 May 2019 (to allow enough time for visas). The final list of participants will be decided by mid-June.

Fill in the registration questionnaire here:


This workshop will be one year after the third SISAL meeting held in Agadir in October 2018 and the last one of the first phase of SISAL (February 2017 to February 2020). The Agadir workshop provided the opportunity to design the protocol for using speleothem records for model evaluation and this protocol has now been submitted for publication (Comas-Bru et al. 2019). A second focus of the Agadir workshop was to inventory records for the second version of the database and to timetable this update, which is planned for summer 2019 and will therefore be available for the fourth workshop. The goal of the fourth workshop is to exploit these two resources and engage with the PMIP project on model evaluation. The workshop will also provide an opportunity to assess progress during the first phase of the SISAL, to assess needs for further activities as well as the focus of a planned second phase.

Further information

Contact the local organizers Yassine Ait Brahim: (aitbrahim[at]xjtu[dot]edu[dot]cn) and Haiwei Zhang: (zhanghaiwei[at]xjtu[dot]edu[dot]cn) for workshop-related questions.

General questions about SISAL can be sent to working group leader Laia Comas Bru: (l[dot]comasbru[at]reading[dot]ac[dot]uk)