Skip to main content

Long-term changes/trends in surface temperature and precipitation during the satellite era (1979–2012)

Abstract

During the post-1979 period in which the satellite-based precipitation measurements with global coverage are available, global mean surface temperature rapidly increased up to late 1990s, followed by a period of temperature hiatus after about 1998/1999. Comparing observed surface temperature trends against the simulated ones by the CMIP5 historical experiments especially in the zonal mean context suggests that although the anthropogenic greenhouse-gases (GHG) forcing has played a major role, in addition to the anthropogenic aerosols and various natural forcings, the effects from decadal-to-interdecadal-scale internal modes specifically the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) are also very strong. Evident temperature changes associated with the PDO’s phase shift are seen in the Pacific basin, with decadal-scale cooling in the tropical central-eastern Pacific and most of the east basin and concurrent warming in the subtropics of both hemispheres, even though the PDO’s net effect on global mean temperature is relatively weak. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) also changed its phase in the mid-1990s, and hence its possible impact is estimated and assessed as well. However, comparisons with CMIP5 simulations suggest that the AMO may have not contributed as significantly as the PDO in terms of the changes/trends in global surface temperature, even though the data analysis technique used here suggests otherwise. Long-term precipitation changes or trends during the post-1979 period are further shown to have been modulated by the two major factors: anthropogenic GHG and PDO, in addition to the relatively weak effects from aerosols and natural forcings. The spatial patterns of observed precipitation trends in the Pacific, including reductions in the tropical central-eastern Pacific and increases in the tropical western Pacific and along the South Pacific Convergence Zone, manifest the PDO’s contributions. Removing the PDO effect from the total precipitation trends makes the spatial structures of precipitation trends more similar to those simulated by CMIP5 historical full forcing experiments particularly in the context of zonal-mean results. This also confirms that in spite of the PDO effect specifically on regional scales, the anthropogenic GHG signals are still discernible in observed precipitation during the time period. Following the increase of GHG, precipitation tends to increase roughly along the climatological ITCZ and decrease south of the equator and in the subtropics of both hemispheres.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

References

  1. Adler RF, Huffman GJ, Chang A, Ferraro R, Xie P, Janowiak J, Rudolf B, Schneider U, Curtis S, Bolvin D, Gruber A, Susskind J, Arkin P (2003) The version 2 global precipitation climatology project (GPCP) monthly precipitation analysis (1979-present). J Hydrometeor 4:1147–1167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Adler RF, Gu G, Wang J-J, Huffman GJ, Curtis S, Bolvin D (2008) Relationships between global precipitation and surface temperature on the longer-than-seasonal time scales (1979–2006). J Geophys Res Atmos 113:D22104. doi:10.1029/2008JD010536

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Allan RP, Liu C, Zahn M, Lavers DA, Koukouvagias E, Bodas-Salcedo A (2013) Physically consistent responses of the global atmospherid hydrological cycle in models and observations. Geophys Surv. doi:10.1007/s10712-012-9213-z

    Google Scholar 

  4. Allen MR, Ingram WJ (2002) Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle. Nature 419:224–232

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bretherton CS, Widmann M, Dymnikov VP, Wallace JM, Blade I (1999) The effective number of spatial degrees of freedom of a time-varying field. J Clim 12:1990–2009

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Burgman RJ, Clement AC, Mitas CM, Chen J, Esslinger K (2008) Evidence for atmospheric variability over the Pacific on decadal timescales. Geophys Res Lett 35:L01704. doi:10.1029/2007GL031830

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Deser C, Phillips AS, Hurrell JW (2004) Pacific interdecadal climate variability: linkage between the tropics and the North Pacific during boreal winter since 1900. J Clim 17:3109–3124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Dong B, Sutton RT, Scaife AA (2006) Multidecadal modulation of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variance by Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperature. Geophys Res Lett 33:L08705. doi:10.1029/2006GL025766

    Google Scholar 

  9. Enfield DB, Mestas-Nuñez AM, Trimble PJ (2001) The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation and its relation to rainfall and river flows in the continental U.S. Geophys Res Lett 28:2077–2080

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Friedman AR, Hwang Y-T, Chiang JCH, Frierson DMW (2013) Interhemispheric temperature asymmetry over the twentieth century and in future projections. J Clim 26:5419–5433

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Gu G, Adler RF (2013) Interdecadal variability/long-term changes in global precipitation patterns during the past three decades: global warming and/or Pacific decadal variability? Clim Dyn 40:3009–3022. doi:10.1007/s00382-012-1443-8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gu G, Adler RF, Huffman G, Curtis S (2007) Tropical rainfall variability on interannual-to-interdecadal/longer-time scales derived from the GPCP monthly product. J Clim 20:4033–4046

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Hansen J, Ruedy R, Glascoe J, Sato M (1999) GISS analysis of surface temperature change. J Geophys Res 104:30997–31022

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hansen J et al (2007) Climate simulations for 1880–2003 with GISS model E. Clim Dyn 29:661–696

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Held IM, Soden BJ (2006) Robust responses of the hydrological cycle to global warming. J Clim 19:5686–5699

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Huffman GJ, Adler RF, Bolvin DT, Gu G (2009) Improvements in the GPCP global precipitation record: GPCP version 2.1. Geophys Res Lett 36:L17808. doi:10.1029/2009GL040000

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. John VO, Allan RP, Soden BJ (2009) How robust are observed and simulated precipitation responses to tropical ocean warming? Geophys Res Lett 36:L14702. doi:10.1029/2009GL038276

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Knight JR, Folland CK, Scaife AA (2006) Climate impacts of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. Geophys Res Lett 33:L17706. doi:10.1029/2006GL026242

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kosaka Y, Xie S-P (2013) Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature12534

    Google Scholar 

  20. Lu R, Dong B, Ding H (2006) Impact of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation on the Asian summer monsoon. Geophys Res Lett 33:L24701. doi:10.1029/2006GL027655

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Mantua NJ, Hare SR (2002) The Pacific decadal oscillation. J Ocean 58:35–44

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Meehl GA, Arblaster JM, Fasullo JT, Hu A, Trenberth KE (2011) Model-based evidence of deep-ocean heat uptake during surface-temperature hiatus periods. Nat Clim Change 1:360–364. doi:10.1038/nclimate1229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Meehl GA, Hu A, Arblaster JM, Fasullo J, Trenberth KE (2013) Externally forced and internally generated decadal climate variability associated with the interdecadal Pacific oscillation. J Clim 26:7298–7310

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Muller RA, Curry J, Groom D, Jacobsen R, Perlmutter S, Rohde R, Rosenfeld A, Wickham CW, Wurtele J (2013) Decadal variations in the global atmospheric land temperature. J Geophys Res 118:5280–5286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Semenov VA, Latif M, Dommenget D, Keenlyside NS, Strehz A, Martin T, Park W (2010) The impact of North Atlantic-Artic multidecadal variability on northern hemisphere surface air temperature. J Clim 23:5668–5677

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Smith TM, Reynolds RW, Peterson TC, Lawrimore J (2008) Improvements to NOAA’s historical merged land–ocean surface temperature analysis (1880–2006). J Clim 21:2283–2296

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Taylor KE, Stouffer RJ, Meehl G (2012) An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 93:485–498. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00094.1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Thompson DWJ, Wallace JM, Hegerl GC (2000) Annular modes in the extratropical circulation. Part II: trends. J Clim 13:1018–1036

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Trenberth KE, Fasullo JT (2013) An apparent hiatus in global warming? Earth’s Future. doi:10.1002/2013EF000165

    Google Scholar 

  30. Tung K-K, Zhou J (2013) Using data to attribute episodes of warming and cooling in instrumental records. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:2058–2063

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Wentz FJ, Ricciardulli L, Hilburn K, Mears C (2007) How much more rain will global warming being? Science 317:233–235

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Wilcox LJ, Highwood EJ, Dunstone NJ (2013) The influence of anthropogenic aerosol on multi-decadal variations of historical global climate. Environ Res Lett. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024033

    Google Scholar 

  33. Wu S, Liu Z, Zhang R, Delworth TL (2011a) On the observed relationship between the Pacific decadal oscillation and the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation. J Oceanogr 67:27–35

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Wu Z, Huang NE, Wallace JM, Smoliak BV, Chen X (2011b) On the time-varying trend in global-mean surface temperature. Clim Dyn 37:759–773

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Xue Y, Smith TM, Reynolds RW (2003) Interdecadal changes of 30-year SST normals during 1871–2000. J Clim 16:1601–1612

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Zhang R, Delworth TL (2007) Impact of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation on North Pacific climate variability. Geophys Res Lett 34:L23708. doi:10.1029/2007GL031601

    Google Scholar 

  37. Zhang Y, Wallace JM, Battisti DS (1997) ENSO-like interdecadal variability: 1900–1993. J Clim 10:1004–1020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Zhang R, Delworth TL, Held IM (2007) Can the Atlantic Ocean drive the observed multidecadal variability in Northern Hemisphere mean temperature? Geophys Res Lett 34:L02709. doi:10.1029/2006GL028683

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The NASA-GISS global surface temperature anomaly product was downloaded from its website at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/. The ERSST data set (v3b) was downloaded from the NOAA-NCDC website at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ersst/. The historical simulations from multiple CMIP5 models and the AMIP precipitation outputs of NASA/GISS Model E were downloaded from the CMIP5 website (http://cmip-pcmdi.llnl.gov/index.html). We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison. This research is supported under the NASA Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction (MAP) Programs and the NASA Energy and Water-cycle Study (NEWS).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Guojun Gu.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Gu, G., Adler, R.F. & Huffman, G.J. Long-term changes/trends in surface temperature and precipitation during the satellite era (1979–2012). Clim Dyn 46, 1091–1105 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-015-2634-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Global precipitation and temperature change/variability
  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
  • The effect of anthropogenic greenhouse-gas related surface warming