Simulation of Recent Global Temperature Trends

Science  03 Feb 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5198, pp. 666-671
DOI: 10.1126/science.267.5198.666


Observations show that global average tropospheric temperatures have been rising during the past century, with the most recent portion of record showing a sharp rise since the mid-1970s. This study shows that the most recent portion of the global temperature record (1970 to 1992) can be closely reproduced by atmospheric models forced only with observed ocean surface temperatures. In agreement with a diverse suite of controversial observational evidence from the past 40 years, the upward trend in simulated tropospheric temperatures is caused by an enhancement of the tropical hydrologic cycle driven by increasing tropical ocean temperatures. Although it is possible that the observed behavior is due to natural climate variability, there is disquieting similarity between these model results, observed climate trends in recent decades, and the early expressions of the climatic response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide in numerical simulations.