The IPCC’s reductive Common Era temperature history

Jan Esper, Jason E. Smerdon*, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Kathryn Allen, Edward R. Cook, Rosanne D’Arrigo, Sébastien Guillet, Fredrik C. Ljungqvist, Frederick Reinig, Lea Schneider, Michael Sigl, Markus Stoffel, Mirek Trnka, Rob Wilson, Ulf Büntgen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Common Era temperature variability has been a prominent component in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports over the last several decades and was twice featured in their Summary for Policymakers. A single reconstruction of mean Northern Hemisphere temperature variability was first highlighted in the 2001 Summary for Policymakers, despite other estimates that existed at the time. Subsequent reports assessed many large-scale temperature reconstructions, but the entirety of Common Era temperature history in the most recent Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was restricted to a single estimate of mean annual global temperatures. We argue that this focus on a single reconstruction is an insufficient summary of our understanding of temperature variability over the Common Era. We provide a complementary perspective by offering an alternative assessment of the state of our understanding in high-resolution paleoclimatology for the Common Era and call for future reports to present a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of our knowledge about this important period of human and climate history.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Early online date25 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024


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