The CLIVAR C20C project: Selected twentieth century climate events

Adam A. Scaife, F. Kucharski, C. K. Folland, J. Kinter, S. Brönnimann, D. Fereday, A. M. Fischer, S. Grainger, E. K. Jin, I. S. Kang, J. R. Knight, S. Kusunoki, N. C. Lau, M. J. Nath, T. Nakaegawa, P. Pegion, S. Schubert, P. Sporyshev, J. Syktus, J. H. YoonN. Zeng, T. Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


We use a simple methodology to test whether a set of atmospheric climate models with prescribed radiative forcings and ocean surface conditions can reproduce twentieth century climate variability. Globally, rapid land surface warming since the 1970s is reproduced by some models but others warm too slowly. In the tropics, air-sea coupling allows models to reproduce the Southern Oscillation but its strength varies between models. We find a strong relationship between the Southern Oscillation in global temperature and the rate of global warming, which could in principle be used to identify models with realistic climate sensitivity. This relationship and a weak response to ENSO suggests weak sensitivity to changes in sea surface temperature in some of the models used here. In the tropics, most models reproduce part of the observed Sahel drought. In the extratropics, models do not reproduce the observed increase in the North Atlantic Oscillation in response to forcings, through internal variability, or as a combination of both.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-614
Number of pages12
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Atmospheric models
  • CLIVAR Climate of the twentieth century project
  • Climate sensitivity
  • Model evaluation
  • North Atlantic Oscillation
  • Regional climate
  • Sahel rainfall
  • Southern Oscillation


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