Papers on global surface temperature since 1998
Posted by Ari Jokimäki on August 2, 2013
This is a list of papers on global surface temperature since 1998. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.
UPDATE (February 22, 2014): England et al. (2014) added.
UPDATE (November 14, 2013): Otto et al. (2013) and Cowtan & Way (2013) added.
UPDATE (October 3, 2013): Kosaka & Xie (2013) and Fyfe et al. (2013) added.
See also the list on global surface temperature for additional relevant papers.
Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus – England et al. (2014) “Despite ongoing increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, the Earth’s global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001. A variety of mechanisms have been proposed to account for this slowdown in surface warming. A key component of the global hiatus that has been identified is cool eastern Pacific sea surface temperature, but it is unclear how the ocean has remained relatively cool there in spite of ongoing increases in radiative forcing. Here we show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades—unprecedented in observations/reanalysis data and not captured by climate models—is sufficient to account for the cooling of the tropical Pacific and a substantial slowdown in surface warming through increased subsurface ocean heat uptake. The extra uptake has come about through increased subduction in the Pacific shallow overturning cells, enhancing heat convergence in the equatorial thermocline. At the same time, the accelerated trade winds have increased equatorial upwelling in the central and eastern Pacific, lowering sea surface temperature there, which drives further cooling in other regions. The net effect of these anomalous winds is a cooling in the 2012 global average surface air temperature of 0.1–0.2 °C, which can account for much of the hiatus in surface warming observed since 2001. This hiatus could persist for much of the present decade if the trade wind trends continue, however rapid warming is expected to resume once the anomalous wind trends abate.” Matthew H. England, Shayne McGregor, Paul Spence, Gerald A. Meehl, Axel Timmermann, Wenju Cai, Alex Sen Gupta, Michael J. McPhaden, Ariaan Purich & Agus Santoso, Nature Climate Change (2014), doi:10.1038/nclimate2106. [Full text]
Coverage bias in the HadCRUT4 temperature series and its impact on recent temperature trends – Cowtan & Way (2013) “Incomplete global coverage is a potential source of bias in global temperature reconstructions if the unsampled regions are not uniformly distributed over the planet’s surface. The widely used HadCRUT4 dataset covers on average about 84% of the globe over recent decades, with the unsampled regions being concentrated at the poles and over Africa. Three existing reconstructions with near-global coverage are examined, each suggesting that HadCRUT4 is subject to bias due to its treatment of unobserved regions. Two alternative approaches for reconstructing global temperatures are explored, one based on an optimal interpolation algorithm and the other a hybrid method incorporating additional information from the satellite temperature record. The methods are validated on the basis of their skill at reconstructing omitted sets of observations. Both methods provide superior results than excluding the unsampled regions, with the hybrid method showing particular skill around the regions where no observations are available. Temperature trends are compared for the hybrid global temperature reconstruction and the raw HadCRUT4 data. The widely quoted trend since 1997 in the hybrid global reconstruction is two and a half times greater than the corresponding trend in the coverage-biased HadCRUT4 data. Coverage bias causes a cool bias in recent temperatures relative to the late 1990s which increases from around 1998 to the present. Trends starting in 1997 or 1998 are particularly biased with respect to the global trend. The issue is exacerbated by the strong El Niño event of 1997-1998, which also tends to suppress trends starting during those years.” Kevin Cowtan, Robert G. Way, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, DOI: 10.1002/qj.2297.
Energy budget constraints on climate response – Otto et al. (2013) “The rate of global mean warming has been lower over the past decade than previously. It has been argued that this observation might require a downwards revision of estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity, that is, the long-term (equilibrium) temperature response to a doubling of…” Alexander Otto, Friederike E. L. Otto, Olivier Boucher, John Church, Gabi Hegerl, Piers M. Forster, Nathan P. Gillett, Jonathan Gregory, Gregory C. Johnson, Reto Knutti, Nicholas Lewis, Ulrike Lohmann, Jochem Marotzke, Gunnar Myhre, Drew Shindell, Bjorn Stevens & Myles R. Allen, Nature Geoscience 6, 415–416 (2013), doi:10.1038/ngeo1836.
Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling – Kosaka & Xie (2013) “Despite the continued increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the annual-mean global temperature has not risen in the twenty-first century, challenging the prevailing view that anthropogenic forcing causes climate warming. Various mechanisms have been proposed for this hiatus in global warming, but their relative importance has not been quantified, hampering observational estimates of climate sensitivity. Here we show that accounting for recent cooling in the eastern equatorial Pacific reconciles climate simulations and observations. We present a novel method of uncovering mechanisms for global temperature change by prescribing, in addition to radiative forcing, the observed history of sea surface temperature over the central to eastern tropical Pacific in a climate model. Although the surface temperature prescription is limited to only 8.2% of the global surface, our model reproduces the annual-mean global temperature remarkably well with correlation coefficient r = 0.97 for 1970–2012 (which includes the current hiatus and a period of accelerated global warming). Moreover, our simulation captures major seasonal and regional characteristics of the hiatus, including the intensified Walker circulation, the winter cooling in northwestern North America and the prolonged drought in the southern USA. Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling. Although similar decadal hiatus events may occur in the future, the multi-decadal warming trend is very likely to continue with greenhouse gas increase.” Yu Kosaka, Shang-Ping Xie, Nature 501,403–407 (19 September 2013) doi:10.1038/nature12534.
Overestimated global warming over the past 20 years – Fyfe et al. (2013) “Recent observed global warming is significantly less than that simulated by climate models. This difference might be explained by some combination of errors in external forcing, model response and internal climate variability.” John C. Fyfe, Nathan P. Gillett, Francis W. Zwiers, Nature Climate Change 3,767–769(2013)doi:10.1038/nclimate1972. [Full text]
Strengthening of ocean heat uptake efficiency associated with the recent climate hiatus – Watanabe et al. (2013) “The rate of increase of global-mean surface air temperature (SATg) has apparently slowed during the last decade. We investigated the extent to which state-of-the-art general circulation models (GCMs) can capture this hiatus period by using multimodel ensembles of historical climate simulations. While the SATg linear trend for the last decade is not captured by their ensemble means regardless of differences in model generation and external forcing, it is barely represented by an 11-member ensemble of a GCM, suggesting an internal origin of the hiatus associated with active heat uptake by the oceans. Besides, we found opposite changes in ocean heat uptake efficiency (κ), weakening in models and strengthening in nature, which explain why the models tend to overestimate the SATg trend. The weakening of κ commonly found in GCMs seems to be an inevitable response of the climate system to global warming, suggesting the recovery from hiatus in coming decades.” Masahiro Watanabe, Youichi Kamae, Masakazu Yoshimori, Akira Oka, Makiko Sato, Masayoshi Ishii, Takashi Mochizuki, Masahide Kimoto, Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 40, Issue 12, pages 3175–3179, 28 June 2013, DOI: 10.1002/grl.50541.
Retrospective prediction of the global warming slowdown in the past decade – Guemas et al. (2013) “Despite a sustained production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the Earth’s mean near-surface temperature paused its rise during the 2000–2010 period. To explain such a pause, an increase in ocean heat uptake below the superficial ocean layer has been proposed to overcompensate for the Earth’s heat storage. Contributions have also been suggested from the deep prolonged solar minimum, the stratospheric water vapour, the stratospheric and tropospheric aerosols. However, a robust attribution of this warming slowdown has not been achievable up to now. Here we show successful retrospective predictions of this warming slowdown up to 5 years ahead, the analysis of which allows us to attribute the onset of this slowdown to an increase in ocean heat uptake. Sensitivity experiments accounting only for the external radiative forcings do not reproduce the slowdown. The top-of-atmosphere net energy input remained in the [0.5–1] W m−2 interval during the past decade, which is successfully captured by our predictions. Most of this excess energy was absorbed in the top 700 m of the ocean at the onset of the warming pause, 65% of it in the tropical Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Our results hence point at the key role of the ocean heat uptake in the recent warming slowdown. The ability to predict retrospectively this slowdown not only strengthens our confidence in the robustness of our climate models, but also enhances the socio-economic relevance of operational decadal climate predictions.” Virginie Guemas, Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes, Isabel Andreu-Burillo & Muhammad Asif, Nature Climate Change, 3, 649–653 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1863.
Separating signal and noise in atmospheric temperature changes: The importance of timescale – Santer et al. (2011) “We compare global-scale changes in satellite estimates of the temperature of the lower troposphere (TLT) with model simulations of forced and unforced TLT changes. While previous work has focused on a single period of record, we select analysis timescales ranging from 10 to 32 years, and then compare all possible observed TLT trends on each timescale with corresponding multi-model distributions of forced and unforced trends. We use observed estimates of the signal component of TLT changes and model estimates of climate noise to calculate timescale-dependent signal-to-noise ratios (S/N). These ratios are small (less than 1) on the 10-year timescale, increasing to more than 3.9 for 32-year trends. This large change in S/N is primarily due to a decrease in the amplitude of internally generated variability with increasing trend length. Because of the pronounced effect of interannual noise on decadal trends, a multi-model ensemble of anthropogenically-forced simulations displays many 10-year periods with little warming. A single decade of observational TLT data is therefore inadequate for identifying a slowly evolving anthropogenic warming signal. Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.” B. D. Santer, C. Mears, C. Doutriaux, P. Caldwell, P. J. Gleckler, T. M. L. Wigley, S. Solomon, N. P. Gillett, D. Ivanova, T. R. Karl, J. R. Lanzante, G. A. Meehl, P. A. Stott, K. E. Taylor, P. W. Thorne, M. F. Wehner, F. J. Wentz, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012), Volume 116, Issue D22, November 2011, DOI: 10.1029/2011JD016263. [Full text]
Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008 – Kaufmann et al. (2011) “Given the widely noted increase in the warming effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations, it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008. We find that this hiatus in warming coincides with a period of little increase in the sum of anthropogenic and natural forcings. Declining solar insolation as part of a normal eleven-year cycle, and a cyclical change from an El Nino to a La Nina dominate our measure of anthropogenic effects because rapid growth in short-lived sulfur emissions partially offsets rising greenhouse gas concentrations. As such, we find that recent global temperature records are consistent with the existing understanding of the relationship among global surface temperature, internal variability, and radiative forcing, which includes anthropogenic factors with well known warming and cooling effects.” Robert K. Kaufmann, Heikki Kauppi, Michael L. Mann, and James H. Stock, PNAS July 19, 2011 vol. 108 no. 29 11790-11793, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1102467108. [Full text]
The role of natural climatic variation in perturbing the observed global mean temperature trend – Hunt (2011) “Controversy continues to prevail concerning the reality of anthropogenically-induced climatic warming. One of the principal issues is the cause of the hiatus in the current global warming trend. There appears to be a widely held view that climatic change warming should exhibit an inexorable upwards trend, a view that implies there is no longer any input by climatic variability in the existing climatic system. The relative roles of climatic change and climatic variability are examined here using the same coupled global climatic model. For the former, the model is run using a specified CO2 growth scenario, while the latter consisted of a multi-millennial simulation where any climatic variability was attributable solely to internal processes within the climatic system. It is shown that internal climatic variability can produce global mean surface temperature anomalies of ±0.25 K and sustained positive and negative anomalies sufficient to account for the anomalous warming of the 1940s as well as the present hiatus in the observed global warming. The characteristics of the internally-induced negative temperature anomalies are such that if this internal natural variability is the cause of the observed hiatus, then a resumption of the observed global warming trend is to be expected within the next few years.” B. G. Hunt, Climate Dynamics, February 2011, Volume 36, Issue 3-4, pp 509-521, DOI: 10.1007/s00382-010-0799-x.
Model-based evidence of deep-ocean heat uptake during surface-temperature hiatus periods – Meehl et al. (2011) “There have been decades, such as 2000–2009, when the observed globally averaged surface-temperature time series shows little increase or even a slightly negative trend (a hiatus period). However, the observed energy imbalance at the top-of-atmosphere for this recent decade indicates that a net energy flux into the climate system of about 1 W m−2 (refs 2, 3) should be producing warming somewhere in the system. Here we analyse twenty-first-century climate-model simulations that maintain a consistent radiative imbalance at the top-of-atmosphere of about 1 W m−2 as observed for the past decade. Eight decades with a slightly negative global mean surface-temperature trend show that the ocean above 300 m takes up significantly less heat whereas the ocean below 300 m takes up significantly more, compared with non-hiatus decades. The model provides a plausible depiction of processes in the climate system causing the hiatus periods, and indicates that a hiatus period is a relatively common climate phenomenon and may be linked to La Niña-like conditions.” Gerald A. Meehl, Julie M. Arblaster, John T. Fasullo, Aixue Hu & Kevin E. Trenberth, Nature Climate Change, 1, 360–364 (2011) doi:10.1038/nclimate1229. [Full text]
Contributions of Stratospheric Water Vapor to Decadal Changes in the Rate of Global Warming – Solomon et al. (2010) “Stratospheric water vapor concentrations decreased by about 10% after the year 2000. Here we show that this acted to slow the rate of increase in global surface temperature over 2000–2009 by about 25% compared to that which would have occurred due only to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. More limited data suggest that stratospheric water vapor probably increased between 1980 and 2000, which would have enhanced the decadal rate of surface warming during the 1990s by about 30% as compared to estimates neglecting this change. These findings show that stratospheric water vapor is an important driver of decadal global surface climate change.” Susan Solomon, Karen H. Rosenlof, Robert W. Portmann, John S. Daniel, Sean M. Davis, Todd J. Sanford, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Science 5 March 2010: Vol. 327 no. 5970 pp. 1219-1223, DOI: 10.1126/science.1182488. [Full text]
An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth’s global energy – Trenberth (2009) “Planned adaptation to climate change requires information about what is happening and why. While a long-term trend is for global warming, short-term periods of cooling can occur and have physical causes associated with natural variability. However, such natural variability means that energy is rearranged or changed within the climate system, and should be traceable. An assessment is given of our ability to track changes in reservoirs and flows of energy within the climate system. Arguments are given that developing the ability to do this is important, as it affects interpretations of global and especially regional climate change, and prospects for the future.” Kevin E Trenberth, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2009, Pages 19–27, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2009.06.001. [Full text]
How will Earth’s surface temperature change in future decades? – Lean & Rind (2009) “Reliable forecasts of climate change in the immediate future are difficult, especially on regional scales, where natural climate variations may amplify or mitigate anthropogenic warming in ways that numerical models capture poorly. By decomposing recent observed surface temperatures into components associated with ENSO, volcanic and solar activity, and anthropogenic influences, we anticipate global and regional changes in the next two decades. From 2009 to 2014, projected rises in anthropogenic influences and solar irradiance will increase global surface temperature 0.15 ± 0.03°C, at a rate 50% greater than predicted by IPCC. But as a result of declining solar activity in the subsequent five years, average temperature in 2019 is only 0.03 ± 0.01°C warmer than in 2014. This lack of overall warming is analogous to the period from 2002 to 2008 when decreasing solar irradiance also countered much of the anthropogenic warming. We further illustrate how a major volcanic eruption and a super ENSO would modify our global and regional temperature projections.” Judith L. Lean, David H. Rind, Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 36, Issue 15, 16 August 2009, DOI: 10.1029/2009GL038932. [Full text]
Is the climate warming or cooling? – Easterling & Wehner (2009) “Numerous websites, blogs and articles in the media have claimed that the climate is no longer warming, and is now cooling. Here we show that periods of no trend or even cooling of the globally averaged surface air temperature are found in the last 34 years of the observed record, and in climate model simulations of the 20th and 21st century forced with increasing greenhouse gases. We show that the climate over the 21st century can and likely will produce periods of a decade or two where the globally averaged surface air temperature shows no trend or even slight cooling in the presence of longer-term warming.” David R. Easterling, Michael F. Wehner, Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 36, Issue 8, April 2009, DOI: 10.1029/2009GL037810. [Full text]