Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates

Benjamin D. Santer, John C. Fyfe, Giuliana Pallotta, Gregory M. Flato, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Ed Hawkins, Michael E. Mann, Jeffrey F. Painter, Céline Bonfils, Ivana Cvijanovic, Carl Mears, Frank J. Wentz, Stephen Po-Chedley, Qiang Fu, Cheng Zhi Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble. Because observations and coupled model simulations do not have the same phasing of natural internal variability, such decadal differences in simulated and observed warming rates invariably occur. Here we analyse global-mean tropospheric temperatures from satellites and climate model simulations to examine whether warming rate differences over the satellite era can be explained by internal climate variability alone. We find that in the last two decades of the twentieth century, differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends are broadly consistent with internal variability. Over most of the early twenty-first century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed; warming rate differences are generally outside the range of trends arising from internal variability. The probability that multi-decadal internal variability fully explains the asymmetry between the late twentieth and early twenty-first century results is low (between zero and about 9%). It is also unlikely that this asymmetry is due to the combined effects of internal variability and a model error in climate sensitivity. We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-485
Number of pages8
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

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warming
twenty first century
asymmetry
simulation
climate
twentieth century
rate
climate modeling
temperature
trend

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Santer, B. D., Fyfe, J. C., Pallotta, G., Flato, G. M., Meehl, G. A., England, M. H., ... Zou, C. Z. (2017). Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates. Nature Geoscience, 10(7), 478-485. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2973
Santer, Benjamin D. ; Fyfe, John C. ; Pallotta, Giuliana ; Flato, Gregory M. ; Meehl, Gerald A. ; England, Matthew H. ; Hawkins, Ed ; Mann, Michael E. ; Painter, Jeffrey F. ; Bonfils, Céline ; Cvijanovic, Ivana ; Mears, Carl ; Wentz, Frank J. ; Po-Chedley, Stephen ; Fu, Qiang ; Zou, Cheng Zhi. / Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates. In: Nature Geoscience. 2017 ; Vol. 10, No. 7. pp. 478-485.
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Santer, BD, Fyfe, JC, Pallotta, G, Flato, GM, Meehl, GA, England, MH, Hawkins, E, Mann, ME, Painter, JF, Bonfils, C, Cvijanovic, I, Mears, C, Wentz, FJ, Po-Chedley, S, Fu, Q & Zou, CZ 2017, 'Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates', Nature Geoscience, vol. 10, no. 7, pp. 478-485. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2973

Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates. / Santer, Benjamin D.; Fyfe, John C.; Pallotta, Giuliana; Flato, Gregory M.; Meehl, Gerald A.; England, Matthew H.; Hawkins, Ed; Mann, Michael E.; Painter, Jeffrey F.; Bonfils, Céline; Cvijanovic, Ivana; Mears, Carl; Wentz, Frank J.; Po-Chedley, Stephen; Fu, Qiang; Zou, Cheng Zhi.

In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 10, No. 7, 01.07.2017, p. 478-485.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - England, Matthew H.

AU - Hawkins, Ed

AU - Mann, Michael E.

AU - Painter, Jeffrey F.

AU - Bonfils, Céline

AU - Cvijanovic, Ivana

AU - Mears, Carl

AU - Wentz, Frank J.

AU - Po-Chedley, Stephen

AU - Fu, Qiang

AU - Zou, Cheng Zhi

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Santer BD, Fyfe JC, Pallotta G, Flato GM, Meehl GA, England MH et al. Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates. Nature Geoscience. 2017 Jul 1;10(7):478-485. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2973