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The PRISM (Pliocene Palaeoclimate) reconstruction: Time for a paradigm shift

January 1, 2013

Global palaeoclimate reconstructions have been invaluable to our understanding of the causes and effects of climate change, but single-temperature representations of the oceanic mixed layer for data–model comparisons are outdated, and the time for a paradigm shift in marine palaeoclimate reconstruction is overdue. The new paradigm in marine palaeoclimate reconstruction stems the loss of valuable climate information and instead presents a holistic and nuanced interpretation of multi-dimensional oceanographic processes and responses. A wealth of environmental information is hidden within the US Geological Survey's Pliocene Research,Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) marine palaeoclimate reconstruction, and we introduce here a plan to incorporate all valuable climate data into the next generation of PRISM products. Beyond the global approach and focus, we plan to incorporate regional climate dynamics with emphasis on processes, integrating multiple environmental proxies wherever available in order to better characterize the mixed layer, and developing a finer time slice within the Mid-Piacenzian Age of the Pliocene, complemented by underused proxies that offer snapshots into environmental conditions. The result will be a proxy-rich, temporally nested, process-oriented approach in a digital format - a relational database with geographic information system capabilities comprising a three-dimensional grid representing the surface layer, with a plethora of data in each cell.