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[1] Over the past fifty years, December–February mean sea level pressure has decreased markedly over both poles, corresponding to a trend toward strengthened westerlies in both hemispheres. In this study we compare observed sea level pressure trends with those simulated in response to natural and anthropogenic influence in a suite of eight up-to-date coupled general circulation models. A global analysis indicates that sea level pressure trends may be attributed to external influence. However, while simulated Southern Hemisphere sea level pressure trends are consistent with those observed, simulated Northern Hemisphere sea level pressure trends are not: Observations show a large negative trend in the Arctic and a positive trend over the subtropical North Atlantic and Mediterranean which is not reproduced in the simulations.