A new, well-verified, multiproxy reconstruction of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index is described that can be used to examine the variability of the NAO prior to twentieth century greenhouse forcing. It covers the period A. D. 1400-1979 and successfully verifies against independent estimates of the winter NAO index from European instrumental and noninstrumental data as far back as 1500. The best validation occurs at interannual timescales and the weakest at multidecadal periods. This result is a significant improvement over previous proxy-based estimates, which often failed to verify prior to 1850, and is related to the use of an extended reconstruction model calibration period that reduced an apparent bias in selected proxies associated with the impact of anomalous twentieth century winter NAO variability on climate teleconnections over North Atlantic sector land areas. Although twentieth century NAO variability is somewhat unusual, comparable periods of persistent positive-phase NAO are reconstructed to have occurred in the past, especially before 1650.
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