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Beyond Palaeoclimate Ping Pong: Improving estimates of past climate variability by consistent data-model comparison

Heidelberg, Germany
Workshop report
Contact person
Kira Rehfeld
E-Mail address
Working groups
Meeting Category

The CVAS working group workshop "Beyond Palaeoclimate Ping Pong: Improving estimates of climate variability by consistent data-model comparison" will be held from 4-7 July 2021 in Heidelberg, Germany, and also with an online/hybrid component.

It was originally scheduled for 3-6 December 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19 disruptions.


Online and

The Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (IWH)

University of Heidelberg


The workshop is partially supported by the 2019 Hengstberger Prize awarded to Kira Rehfeld.

This interactive, interdisciplinary event plans to bridge efforts from PAGES and PMIP working groups. Other PAGES working groups that plan to be involved include SISAL and the 2k Network.

COVID-19 update

At the moment the situation is improving, with vaccines being rolled out and travel within Europe possible again in the near future. The plan is to go ahead with a hybrid meeting with 10-20 people on site in Heidelberg, and about the same number of online participants. Of course this is under the condition that the situation continues to improve, and that this meeting will be legally possible. COVID tests will be organized for onsite participants who are not (yet) fully vaccinated.

In the meantime, organizers would like to call on participants who plan to be at the local event in Heidelberg to fill in this poll before 31 May:

And organizers ask everyone to fill in this poll for the best time for a prep meeting on 18 June:


The question of whether the variability of the Earth's climate depends on the Earth's mean temperature remains a fundamental, and unsolved one.

This question is important because changes in the probability distribution of temperature and precipitation influence the frequency of extreme climate and weather events, which is at least as relevant for society as changes in the mean temperature.

The title of the conference is deliberately illustrative: knowledge in climate research always moves back and forth between modeling and data analysis, in a constant dialectical discourse. However, in order to solve the fundamental questions about the dynamics of the Earth system, an integrative perspective is necessary.


The workshop will focus on the following basic question:

How can palaeoclimate data be used to evaluate long-term predictability in climate models?

This is a core challenge in climate research and requires a better understanding of the data as well as the consequences of neglected or poorly simulated processes in climate models.

Related questions, to be taken forward in the working groups, are:

- How can transient climate model simulations (e.g. from PMIP4), be evaluated via uncertain proxy data?

- Which techniques allow an estimation of spatial temperature and precipitation changes in the past, at the glacial maximum and 6000 years ago in the Middle Holocene?

- Can fast climate changes in the glacial be found globally with proxy data and unambiguous sequences/magnitudes be quantified?

- Which dynamic correlations (teleconnections, e.g. quantifiable via correlation) exist in model data on the hundred- to thousand-year-old time scales which the proxy data can map - and are there similar correlations in these?


- Improve scientific understanding of the state and time scale dependence of the Earth's climate.

- Joint publication on the state of research on the time scale dependence of climate, which integrates model and data aspects, also with regard to political climate objectives and possible implications of warming to 4 and more degrees.

- Methodological further development of statistical methods for the comparison of climate models and proxy data (open source software).

Important dates - updated!

Registration deadline: 30 April 2021

Notification of acceptance: 15 May 2021

Conference video call: 18 June 2021

Deadline for submission of introductory speed-talks slides: 30 June 2021

Workshop dates/time: 12:00 Sunday 4 July 2021 – 14:00 Wednesday 7 July 2021


For registration, please send an email by 30 April to (paleodyn[at]iup[dot]uni-heidelberg[dot]de) answering the following questions:

1. Name and affiliation

2. Would you prefer to participate on site or remotely? (We aim to have a live stream/discussion for registered online participants)

3. What would you bring to the workshop/discussion?

4. What do you expect you could take away from the event?

5. Do you need funding to attend, and for what? (travel, accommodation)

6. At which stage are you in your research career? (e.g. early career)

Please consider that there is a very limited number of available spots (35 participants locally) and limited funding.

There is no registration fee. Lunch during the workshop and two dinners will be provided.

Further information

Contact the organizing committee: (paleodyn[at]iup[dot]uni-heidelberg[dot]de)

Go to the official workshop website: