Can the Atlantic Ocean drive the observed multidecadal variability in Northern Hemisphere mean temperature?

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Abstract

[1] While the Northern Hemisphere mean surface temperature has clearly warmed over the 20th century due in large part to increasing greenhouse gases, this warming has not been monotonic. The departures from steady warming on multidecadal timescales might be associated in part with radiative forcing, especially solar irradiance, volcanoes, and anthropogenic aerosols. It is also possible that internal oceanic variability explains a part of this variation. We report here on simulations with a climate model in which the Atlantic Ocean is constrained to produce multidecadal fluctuations similar to observations by redistributing heat within the Atlantic, with other oceans left free to adjust to these Atlantic perturbations. The model generates multidecadal variability in Northern Hemisphere mean temperatures similar in phase and magnitude to detrended observations. The results suggest that variability in the Atlantic is a viable explanation for a portion of the multidecadal variability in the Northern Hemisphere mean temperature record.

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