To investigate climate variability in Asia during the last millennium, the spatial and temporal evolution of summer (June–July–August; JJA) temperature in eastern and south-central Asia is reconstructed using multi-proxy records and the regularized expectation maximization (RegEM) algorithm with truncated total least squares (TTLS), under a point-by-point regression (PPR) framework. The temperature index reconstructions show that the late 20th century was the warmest period in Asia over the past millennium. The temperature field reconstructions illustrate that temperatures in central, eastern, and southern China during the 11th and 13th centuries, and in western Asia during the 12th century, were significantly higher than those in other regions, and comparable to levels in the 20th century. Except for the most recent warming, all identified warm events showed distinct regional expressions and none were uniform over the entire reconstruction area. The main finding of the study is that spatial temperature patterns have, on centennial time-scales, varied greatly over the last millennium. Moreover, seven climate model simulations, from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), over the same region of Asia, are all consistent with the temperature index reconstruction at the 99 % confidence level. Only spatial temperature patterns extracted as the first empirical orthogonal function (EOF) from the GISS-E2-R and MPI-ESM-P model simulations are significant and consistent with the temperature field reconstruction over the past millennium in Asia at the 90 % confidence level. This indicates that both the reconstruction and the simulations depict the temporal climate variability well over the past millennium. However, the spatial simulation or reconstruction capability of climate variability over the past millennium could be still limited. For reconstruction, some grid points do not pass validation tests and reveal the need for more proxies with high temporal resolution, accurate dating, and sensitive temperature signals, especially in central Asia and before AD 1400.
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