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

20 Scopus citations

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

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Santer, B. D., Fyfe, J. C., Pallotta, G., Flato, G. M., Meehl, G. A., England, M. H., Hawkins, E., Mann, M. E., Painter, J. F., Bonfils, C., Cvijanovic, I., Mears, C., Wentz, F. J., Po-Chedley, S., Fu, Q., & 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