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The global warming hiatus—a natural product of interactions of a secular warming trend and a multi-decadal oscillation

Abstract

The globally-averaged annual combined land and ocean surface temperature (GST) anomaly change features a slowdown in the rate of global warming in the mid-twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Here, it is shown that the hiatus in the rate of global warming typically occurs when the internally generated cooling associated with the cool phase of the multi-decadal variability overcomes the secular warming from human-induced forcing. We provide compelling evidence that the global warming hiatus is a natural product of the interplays between a secular warming tendency due in a large part to the buildup of anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, in particular CO2 concentration, and internally generated cooling by a cool phase of a quasi-60-year oscillatory variability that is closely associated with the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation (AMO) and the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). We further illuminate that the AMO can be considered as a useful indicator and the PDO can be implicated as a harbinger of variations in global annual average surface temperature on multi-decadal timescales. Our results suggest that the recent observed hiatus in the rate of global warming will very likely extend for several more years due to the cooling phase of the quasi-60-year oscillatory variability superimposed on the secular warming trend.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Weichen Tao, Guanhuan Wen, and Hainan Gong for the useful discussions and suggestions for this work. Thanks are also due to Shangfeng Chen and Dong Chen for their comments on a previous version of the manuscript. This work is supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2012CB955604 and 2011CB309704), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA05090402), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41275083 and 91337105), and National Outstanding Youth Science Fund Project of China (41425019).

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Correspondence to Gang Huang.

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Yao, SL., Huang, G., Wu, RG. et al. The global warming hiatus—a natural product of interactions of a secular warming trend and a multi-decadal oscillation. Theor Appl Climatol 123, 349–360 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-014-1358-x

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Keywords

  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • Empirical Mode Decomposition
  • Secular Trend
  • Intrinsic Mode Function
  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation Index