An apparent hiatus in global warming?
Article first published online: 5 DEC 2013
© 2013 The Authors.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Volume 1, Issue 1, pages 19–32, December 2013
How to Cite
Trenberth, K. E. and Fasullo, J. T. (2013), An apparent hiatus in global warming?. Earth's Future, 1: 19–32. doi: 10.1002/2013EF000165
- Issue published online: 29 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 5 DEC 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 26 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 21 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Received: 23 AUG 2013
- NASA. Grant Number: NNX09AH89G
- Pacific Decadal Oscillation;
- global warming;
- energy imbalance;
- global temperatures
Global warming first became evident beyond the bounds of natural variability in the 1970s, but increases in global mean surface temperatures have stalled in the 2000s. Increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, create an energy imbalance at the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) even as the planet warms to adjust to this imbalance, which is estimated to be 0.5–1 W m−2 over the 2000s. Annual global fluctuations in TOA energy of up to 0.2 W m−2 occur from natural variations in clouds, aerosols, and changes in the Sun. At times of major volcanic eruptions the effects can be much larger. Yet global mean surface temperatures fluctuate much more than these can account for. An energy imbalance is manifested not just as surface atmospheric or ground warming but also as melting sea and land ice, and heating of the oceans. More than 90% of the heat goes into the oceans and, with melting land ice, causes sea level to rise. For the past decade, more than 30% of the heat has apparently penetrated below 700 m depth that is traceable to changes in surface winds mainly over the Pacific in association with a switch to a negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in 1999. Surface warming was much more in evidence during the 1976–1998 positive phase of the PDO, suggesting that natural decadal variability modulates the rate of change of global surface temperatures while sea-level rise is more relentless. Global warming has not stopped; it is merely manifested in different ways.