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Sensitivity to Factors Underlying the HiatusRecent trends in global mean surface air temperature fall outside the 90 range predicted by models using the CMIP5 forcings and scenarios; this recent period of muted warming is dubbed the hiatus. The hiatus has attracted broad attention in both the popular press and the scientific literature, primarily because of its perceived implications for understanding long-term trends. Many hypotheses have been offered to explain the warming slowdown during the hiatus, and comprehensive studies of this period across multiple variables and spatial scales will likely improve our understanding of the physical mechanisms driving global temperature change and variability.We argue, however, that decadal temperature trends by themselves are unlikely to constrain future trajectories of global mean temperature and that the hiatus does not significantly revise our understanding of overall climate sensitivity. Instead, we demonstrate that, because of the poorly constrained nature of the hiatus, model-observation disagreements over this period may be resolvable via uncertainties in the observations, modeled internal variability, forcing estimates, or (more likely) some combination of all three factors. We define the hiatus interval as 1998-2012, endpoints judiciously chosen to minimize observed warming by including the large 1998 El Nio event and excluding 2014, an exceptionally warm year. Such choices are fundamentally subjective and cannot be considered random, so any probabilistic statements regarding the likelihood of this occurring need to be made carefully. Using this definition, the observed global temperature trend estimates from four datasets fall outside the 5-95 interval predicted by the CMIP5 models. Here we explore some of the plausible explanations for this discrepancy, and show that no unique explanation is likely to fully account for the hiatus.
Document ID
Document Type
Marvel, Kate (Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Schmidt, Gavin A. (NASA Goddard Inst. for Space Studies New York, NY United States)
Tsigaridis, Kostas (Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Cook, Benjamin I. (NASA Goddard Inst. for Space Studies New York, NY United States)
Date Acquired
October 29, 2015
Publication Date
June 21, 2015
Publication Information
Publication: US Clivar Variations
Volume: 13
Issue: 3
Subject Category
Meteorology and Climatology
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 509496.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
atmospheric temperature
surface temperature

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