Climate Change Detection and Attribution: Beyond Mean Temperature Signals

G. C. Hegerl, T. R. Karl, M. Allen, N. L. Bindoff, N. Gillett, D. Karoly, X. B. Zhang, F. Zwiers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A significant influence of anthropogenic forcing has been detected in global- and continental-scale surface temperature, temperature of the free atmosphere, and global ocean heat uptake. This paper reviews outstanding issues in the detection of climate change and attribution to causes. The detection of changes in variables other than temperature, on regional scales and in climate extremes, is important for evaluating model simulations of changes in societally relevant scales and variables. For example, sea level pressure changes are detectable but are significantly stronger in observations than the changes simulated in climate models, raising questions about simulated changes in climate dynamics. Application of detection and attribution methods to ocean data focusing not only on heat storage but also on the penetration of the anthropogenic signal into the ocean interior, and its effect on global water masses, helps to increase confidence in simulated large-scale changes in the ocean.

To evaluate climate change signals with smaller spatial and temporal scales, improved and more densely sampled data are needed in both the atmosphere and ocean. Also, the problem of how model-simulated climate extremes can be compared to station-based observations needs to be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5058-5077
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006


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