A multiple linear regression analysis of global annual mean near-surface air temperature (1900–2012) using the known radiative forcing and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation index as explanatory variables account for 89% of the observed temperature variance. When the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index is added to the set of explanatory variables, the fraction of accounted for temperature variance increases to 94%. The anthropogenic effects account for about two thirds of the post-1975 global warming with one third being due to the positive phase of the AMO. In comparison, the Coupled Models Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) ensemble mean accounts for 87% of the observed global mean temperature variance. Some of the CMIP5 models mimic the AMO-like oscillation by a strong aerosol effect. These models simulate the twentieth century AMO-like cycle with correct timing in each individual simulation. An inverse structural analysis suggests that these models generally overestimate the greenhouse gases-induced warming, which is then compensated by an overestimate of anthropogenic aerosol cooling.