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

05-07 July 2021, Heidelberg, Germany


"Beyond Palaeoclimate Ping Pong: Improving estimates of climate variability by consistent data-model comparison" is a workshop organised on behalf of CVAS, thanks to the 2019 Hengstberger Prize awarded to Kira Rehfeld.
This interactive, interdisciplinary event plans to bridge efforts from PAGES and PMIP working groups.


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 modelling 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) 


  Day 1 Day 2 Day 4
  Mo, 5. Jul 21 Di, 6. Jul 21 Mi, 7. Jul 21
8 – 9 Arrival/Setup    
9 – 10 Talk4-Talk6 (PingPongExamples) WG4 Consolidation
10 – 11 Reception and Registration WG1 – Status T: Results from WG
11 – 12 Welcome Coffee/PICO 2 Coffee break
Introductory talk Session climate model output
12 – 13 2min Speed-Talks (all) WG2 Discussion: The role of palaeoclimate in the future
13 – 14 Lunch Lunch Lunch
14 – 15 Talk1-Proxy WG3 Departure
15 – 16 Discussion: Open Challenges
Kaffee/PICO 1
16 –17 Talk 3 Talk 7
Work group (WG) formation (WG0) Coffee break
17 – 18 Discussion: Progress and plans
18:30 – 21:00 Dinner (at IWH) Dinner (IWH, tbc)


  • Workshop dates/time:  12pm Sunday, 4th July 2021 – 2pm Wednesday, 7th July 2021
  • Registration deadline:  30th April 2021

  • Notification of acceptance:  15th May 2021

  • Conference video call:  18th June 2021

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


The venue

The workshop will take place in the beautiful Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (IWH) of the University of Heidelberg.
Heidelberg is centrally located in Germany and Europe and easy to reach by train, bus, shuttle, and car.
Information on how to reach the IWH can be found on the IWH page.




For registration please send an email to 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 dinner of Monday evening will be provided. 

If you would need child care support to attend, please do let us know with your registration.


If you have any question please contact the organising committee at


This symposium is made possible courtesy of the Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger Foundation through the 2019 Hengstberger Award. For further information about the prestigious Hengstberger Award please visit:
We further acknowledge support of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the organizational support of the STACY research group members. Thank you.