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Keywords:

  • decadal variability;
  • climate;
  • solar influence;
  • atmosphere–ocean interaction

Abstract

Statistical analyses of long-term instrumental and proxy data emphasize a distinction between two quasi-decadal modes of climate variability. One mode is linked to atmosphere–ocean interactions (‘the internal mode’) and the other one is associated with the solar sunspots cycle (‘the solar mode’). The distinct signatures of these two modes are also detected in a high-resolution sediment core located in the Cariaco basin. In the oceanic surface temperature the internal mode explains about three times more variance than the solar mode. In contrast, the solar mode dominates over the internal mode in the sea-level pressure and upper atmospheric fields. The heterogeneous methods and data sets used in this study underline the distinction between these decadal modes and enable estimation of their relative importance. The distinction between these modes is important for the understanding of climate variability, the recent global warming trend and the interpretation of high-resolution proxy data. Copyright © 2005 Royal Meteorological Society