Earth’s climate has warmed by approximately 0.85 degrees over the period from 1880 to 2012 [IPCC, 2013] due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. However, the rate of warming throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has not been uniform, with periods of accelerated warming and cooling.
Recent media headlines have again discussed the issue of whether climate models are overly sensitive to greenhouse gases. These headlines have misinterpreted a study by Millar et al. which was discussing carbon budgets to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
A recent study by Medhaug et al. analysed the issue of how the models have performed against recent observations at length and largely reconciled the issue. An overly simplistic comparison of simulated global temperatures and observations might suggest that the models were warming too much, but this would be wrong for a number of reasons. Continue reading Are the models “running too hot”?
In new research a volcanic eruption is exploited as a natural laboratory to test how tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere influence climate through their effect on cloud. Continue reading Volcano reveals simpler than expected cloud-climate response to tiny aerosol particles
The warming that has occurred over the past 160 years has not been the same everywhere. Certain regions, such as the Arctic, have warmed far more than the Southern Ocean for example. How well do our climate models represent these differences? Continue reading Zonal mean temperature change in observations & models
Some of the biggest questions about the future climate we have are: “how much could the climate change this century?”, “how reliable are climate projections?” and “what could happen on the way to 2100?” Also, most people want to know about regional change rather than change to the global mean climate. We have recently produced two papers relevant to these questions in terms of temperature change, now available (one on limits to temperature change this century and another on regional projections and variability).
Guest post by Michael Grose, CSIRO
Continue reading Regional temperature this century
Climate sensitivity characterises the response of the climate to changes in radiative forcing and can be measured in many different ways. However, estimates derived from observations of historical global temperatures have tended to be lower than those suggested by state-of-the-art climate simulators. Are the models too sensitive?
A new study largely explains the difference – it is because the comparison has not been done ‘like-with-like’.
The implications for understanding historical global temperature change are also significant. It is suggested that changes in global air temperature are actually ~24% larger than measured by the HadCRUT4 global temperature dataset. Continue reading Reconciling estimates of climate sensitivity
Surface temperature rise is often thought of as synonymous with climate change. However a recently published paper in Nature Climate Change argues that Earth’s energy imbalance (EEI) is what ultimately sets the pace of climate change and that substantive progress can be made by monitoring this key climate variable.
Often when analysing and comparing climate data we have to choose a reference period (or baseline) to calculate anomalies. But it is not often discussed why a particular baseline is chosen. Our new paper (open access in BAMS) considers this issue and asks: does the choice of reference period matter?