Assessment of twentieth-century regional surface temperature trends using the GFDL CM2 coupled models

Thomas R. Knutson, T. L. Delworth, K. W. Dixon, I. M. Held, J. Lu, V. Ramaswamy, M. D. Schwarzkopf, G. Stenchikov, R. J. Stouffer

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194 Scopus citations


Historical climate simulations of the period 1861-2000 using two new Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) global climate models (CM2.0 and CM2.1) are compared with observed surface temperatures. All-forcing runs include the effects of changes in well-mixed greenhouse gases, ozone, sulfates, black and organic carbon, volcanic aerosols, solar flux, and land cover. Indirect effects of tropospheric aerosols on clouds and precipitation processes are not included. Ensembles of size 3 (CM2.0) and 5 (CM2.1) with all forcings are analyzed, along with smaller ensembles of natural-only and anthropogenic-only forcing, and multicentury control runs with no external forcing. Observed warming tr ends on the global scale and in many regions are simulated more realistically in the all-forcing and anthropogenic-only forcing runs than in experiments using natural-only forcing or no external forcing. In the all-forcing and anthropogenic-only forcing runs, the model shows some tendency for too much twentieth-century warming in lower latitudes and too little warming in higher latitudes. Differences in Arctic Oscillation behavior between models and observations contribute substantially to an underprediction of the observed warming over northern Asia. In the all-forcing and natural-only forcing runs, a temporary global cooling in the models during the 1880s not evident in the observed temperature records is volcanically forced. El Niño interactions complicate comparisons of observed and simulated temperature records for the El Chichón and Mt. Pinatubo eruptions during the early 1980s and early 1990s. The simulations support previou s findings that twentieth-century global warming has resulted from a combination of natural and anthropogenic forcing, with anthropogenic forcing being the dominant cause of the pronounced late-twentieth-century warming. The regional results provide evidence for an emergent anthropogenic warming signal over many, if not most, regions of the globe. The warming signal has emerged rather monotonically in the Indian Ocean/western Pacific warm pool during the past half-century. The tropical and subtropical North Atlantic and the tropical eastern Pacific are examples of regions where the anthropogenic warming signal now appears to be emerging from a background of more substantial multidecadal variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1624-1651
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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