Report

Detection of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the World's Oceans

Science  13 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5515, pp. 270-274
DOI: 10.1126/science.1058304

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Abstract

Large-scale increases in the heat content of the world's oceans have been observed to occur over the last 45 years. The horizontal and temporal character of these changes has been closely replicated by the state-of-the-art Parallel Climate Model (PCM) forced by observed and estimated anthropogenic gases. Application of optimal detection methodology shows that the model-produced signals are indistinguishable from the observations at the 0.05 confidence level. Further, the chances of either the anthropogenic or observed signals being produced by the PCM as a result of natural, internal forcing alone are less than 5%. This suggests that the observed ocean heat-content changes are consistent with those expected from anthropogenic forcing, which broadens the basis for claims that an anthropogenic signal has been detected in the global climate system. Additionally, the requirement that modeled ocean heat uptakes match observations puts a strong, new constraint on anthropogenically forced climate models. It is unknown if the current generation of climate models, other than the PCM, meet this constraint.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: tbarnett{at}ucsd.edu

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