THE recognition of natural modes of climate variability is essential for a better understanding of the factors that govern climate change. Recent models suggest that interdecadal (roughly 15–35-year period)1–4 and century-scale (roughly 50–150-year period)5–7 climate variability may be intrinsic to the natural climate system. While there is some evidence for the existence of interdecadal8,9 and century-scale9,10 oscillations in instrumental temperature records, confident detection from these short (100–400-year) records is difficult11,12. Oscillations on the same timescales5,13–17 have also been detected in isolated climate-proxy or historical records over longer durations, but the large-scale spatial structure of the variability has not been investigated systematically. Here we report the multivariate analysis of a globally distributed set of temperature proxy records of several centuries duration. The results of our spatio-temporal analysis strengthen evidence for persistent natural interdecadal and century-scale climate oscillations, and reveal both the spatial patterns and temporal histories of these signals.
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