Top-of-atmosphere radiative contribution to unforced decadal global temperature variability in climate models

Patrick T. Brown, Wenhong Li, Laifang Li, Yi Ming

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Much recent work has focused on unforced global mean surface air temperature (T) variability associated with the efficiency of heat transport into the deep ocean. Here the relationship between unforced variability in T and the Earth's top-of-atmosphere (TOA) energy balance is explored in preindustrial control runs of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 multimodel ensemble. It is found that large decadal scale variations in T tend to be significantly enhanced by the net energy flux at the TOA. This indicates that unforced decadal variability in T is not only caused by a redistribution of heat within the climate system but can also be associated with unforced changes in the total amount of heat in the climate system. It is found that the net TOA radiation imbalances result mostly from changes in albedo associated with the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation that temporarily counteracts the climate system's outgoing longwave (i.e., Stefan-Boltzmann) response to T change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5175-5183
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 28 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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