Uncertainty in near-term global surface warming linked to tropical Pacific climate variability
Published in Nature Communications 30 April 2019
Climate models generally simulate a long-term slowdown of the Pacific Walker Circulation in a warming world. However, despite increasing greenhouse forcing, there was an unprecedented intensification of the Pacific Trade Winds during 1992–2011, that co-occurred with a temporary slowdown in global surface warming. Using ensemble simulations from three different climate models starting from different initial conditions, we find a large spread in projected 20-year globally averaged surface air temperature trends that can be linked to differences in Pacific climate variability. This implies diminished predictive skill for global surface air temperature trends over decadal timescales, to a large extent due to intrinsic Pacific Ocean variability. We show, however, that this uncertainty can be considerably reduced when the initial oceanic state is known and well represented in the model. In this case, the spatial patterns of 20-year surface air temperature trends depend largely on the initial state of the Pacific Ocean.
Bordbar, M.H., England, M.H., Gupta, A. et al. Uncertainty in near-term global surface warming linked to tropical Pacific climate variability. Nat Commun 10, 1990 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41467-019-09761-2