The diurnal temperature range (DTR) is an identifiable and sensitive indicator of the synchronicity of changes in diurnal temperature extrema, but capturing DTR dynamics is challenging for climate models. This study investigates the climatology, variability, and changes of DTR in recent models participating in phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). The results show that the CMIP6 models underestimate DTR climatology relative to observations. Most individual models overestimate December–February variability, particularly at high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. The models show substantially different changes over land surfaces and do not fully capture the observed spatiotemporal evolution of DTR. Large intermodel differences seem to be controlled by daily minimum air temperature. In the Northern Hemisphere, precipitation and cloud longwave and shortwave radiative effects appear to make important contributions to the intermodel discrepancies. Evaporative fraction is an important factor contributing to the intermodel differences in DTR during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere. In general, CMIP6 models have not improved their ability to simulate temporal DTR changes in a consistent way over the entire analysis period (1901–2005) relative to their CMIP5 counterparts. For periods of rapid DTR decline (e.g., 1951–80) CMIP6 models are typically better than the CMIP5 versions at simulating DTR, whereas for other periods CMIP6 models underperform their CMIP5 counterparts.

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