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Thomas R. Karl and Philip D. Jones

A data set derived from the United States Historical Climate Network has been compared to two global land-based temperature data sets that have been commonly cited in connection with the detection of the greenhouse effect and in other studies of climate change. Results indicate that in the United States the two global land-based temperature data sets have an urban bias between + 0.1°C and +0.4°C over the twentieth century (1901–84). This bias is as large or larger than the overall temperature trend in the United States during this time period, +0.16°C/84 yr. Temperature trends indicate an increasing temperature from the turn of the century to the 1930s but a decrease thereafter. By comparison, the global temperature trends during the same period are between +0.4°C/84 yr and +0.6°C/84 yr. At this time, we can only speculate on the magnitude of the urban bias in the global land-based data sets for other parts of the globe, but the magnitude of the bias in the United States compared to the overall temperature trend underscores the need for a thorough global study.

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Gabriele C. Hegerl, Philip D. Jones, and Tim P. Barnett

Abstract

The effect of sampling error in surface air temperature observations is assessed for detection and attribution of an anthropogenic signal. This error arises because grid-box values are based on varying densities of station and marine data. An estimate of sampling error is included in the application of an optimal detection and attribution method based on June–August trends over 50 yr. The detection and attribution method is applied using both the full spatial pattern of observed trends and spatial patterns from which the global mean warming has been subtracted.

Including the effect of sampling error is found to increase the uncertainty in estimates of the greenhouse gas–plus–sulfate aerosol signal from observations by less than 2%–6% for recent trend patterns (1949–98), and 3%–8% for signal estimates from observations in the first half of the twentieth century. Random instrumental error shows even smaller effects. However, the effects of systematic instrumental errors, such as changes in measurement practices or urbanization, cannot be estimated at present. The detection and attribution results for recent 50-yr summer trends are very similar between the case including and the case disregarding the global mean. However, results based on observations from the first half of the twentieth century yield high signal amplitudes with global mean and low ones without, suggesting little pattern agreement for that warming with the anthropogenic climate change signal.

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Richard C. Cornes, Philip D. Jones, and Cheng Qian

Abstract

The annual cycle of surface air temperature is examined across Northern Hemisphere land areas (north of 25°N) by comparing the results from the Climatic Research Unit Time Series (CRU TS) dataset against four reanalysis datasets: two versions of the NOAA Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CR and 20CRC) and two versions of the ECMWF Twentieth Century Reanalysis, version 2 (ERA-20C) and version 2c (ERA-20CM). The modulated annual cycle is adaptively derived from an ensemble empirical mode decomposition (EEMD) filter, and is used to define the phase and amplitude of the annual cycle. The EEMD method does not impose a simple sinusoidal shape of the annual cycle. None of the reanalysis simulations assimilates surface temperature or land-use data. However, they differ in the parameters that are included: both ERA-20C and 20CR assimilate surface pressure data; ERA-20C also includes surface wind data over the oceans; and ERA-20CM does not assimilate any of these synoptic data. It is demonstrated that synoptic variability is critical for explaining the trends and variability of the annual cycle of surface temperature across the Northern Hemisphere. The CMIP5 forcings alone are insufficient to explain the observed trends and decadal-scale variability, particularly with respect to the decline in the amplitude of the annual cycle throughout the twentieth century. The variability in the annual cycle during the latter half of the twentieth century was unusual in the context of the twentieth century, and was most likely related to large-scale atmospheric variability, although uncertainty in the results is greatest before about 1930.

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Marie Ekström, Phaedon C. Kyriakidis, Adrian Chappell, and Philip D. Jones

Abstract

With few exceptions, spatial estimation of rainfall typically relies on information in the spatial domain only. In this paper, a method that utilizes information in time and space and provides an assessment of estimate uncertainty is used to create a gridded monthly rainfall dataset for the United Kingdom over the period 1980–87. Observed rainfall profiles within the region were regarded as the sum of a deterministic temporal trend and a stochastic residual component. The parameters of the temporal trend components established at the rain gauges were interpolated in space, accounting for their auto- and cross correlation, and for relationships with ancillary spatial variables. Stochastic Gaussian simulation was then employed to generate alternative realizations of the spatiotemporal residual component, which were added to the estimated trend component to yield realizations of rainfall (after distributional corrections). In total, 40 realizations of rainfall were generated for each month of the 8-yr period. The methodology resulted in reasonably accurate estimates of rainfall but underestimated in northwest and north Scotland and northwest England. The cause for the underestimation was identified as a weak relationship between local rainfall and the spatial area average rainfall, used to estimate the temporal trend model in these regions, and suggestions were made for improvement. The strengths of this method are the utilization of information from the time and space domain, and the assessment of spatial uncertainty in the estimated rainfall values.

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Gabriele C. Hegerl, Hans von Storch, Klaus Hasselmann, Benjamin D. Santer, Ulrich Cubasch, and Philip D. Jones

Abstract

A strategy using statistically optimal fingerprints to detect anthropogenic climate change is outlined and applied to near-surface temperature trends. The components of this strategy include observations, information about natural climate variability, and a “guess pattern” representing the expected time–space pattern of anthropogenic climate change. The expected anthropogenic climate change is identified through projection of the observations onto an appropriate optimal fingerprint, yielding a scalar-detection variable. The statistically optimal fingerprint is obtained by weighting the components of the guess pattern (truncated to some small-dimensional space) toward low-noise directions. The null hypothesis that the observed climate change is part of natural climate variability is then tested.

This strategy is applied to detecting a greenhouse-gas-induced climate change in the spatial pattern of near-surface temperature trends defined for time intervals of 15–30 years. The expected pattern of climate change is derived from a transient simulation with a coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model. Global gridded near-surface temperature observations are used to represent the observed climate change. Information on the natural variability needed to establish the statistics of the detection variable is extracted from long control simulations of coupled ocean-atmosphere models and, additionally, from the observations themselves (from which an estimated greenhouse warming signal has been removed). While the model control simulations contain only variability caused by the internal dynamics of the atmosphere-ocean system, the observations additionally contain the response to various external forcings (e.g., volcanic eruptions, changes in solar radiation, and residual anthropogenic forcing). The resulting estimate of climate noise has large uncertainties but is qualitatively the best the authors can presently offer.

The null hypothesis that the latest observed 20-yr and 30-yr trend of near-surface temperature (ending in 1994) is part of natural variability is rejected with a risk of less than 2.5% to 5% (the 5% level is derived from the variability of one model control simulation dominated by a questionable extreme event). In other words, the probability that the warming is due to our estimated natural variability is less than 2.5% to 5%. The increase in the signal-to-noise ratio by optimization of the fingerprint is of the order of 10%–30% in most cases.

The predicted signals are dominated by the global mean component; the pattern correlation excluding the global mean is positive but not very high. Both the evolution of the detection variable and also the pattern correlation results are consistent with the model prediction for greenhouse-gas-induced climate change. However, in order to attribute the observed warming uniquely to anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing, more information on the climate's response to other forcing mechanisms (e.g., changes in solar radiation, volcanic, or anthropogenic sulfate aerosols) and their interaction is needed.

It is concluded that a statistically significant externally induced warming has been observed, but our caveat that the estimate of the internal climate variability is still uncertain is emphasized.

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Fang Wang, Quansheng Ge, Shaowu Wang, Qingxiang Li, and Philip D. Jones

Abstract

The extent to which an urbanization effect has contributed to climate warming is under debate in China. Some previous studies have shown that the urban heat island (UHI) contribution to national warming was substantial (10%–40%). However, by considering the spatial scale of urbanization effects, this study indicates that the UHI contribution is negligible (less than 1%). Urban areas constitute only 0.7% of the whole of China. According to the proportions of urban and rural areas used in this study, the weighted urban and rural temperature averages reduced the estimated total warming trend and also reduced the estimated urban effects. Conversely, if all stations were arithmetically averaged, that is, without weighting, the total warming trend and urban effects will be overestimated as in previous studies because there are more urban stations than rural stations in China. Moreover, the urban station proportion (68%) is much higher than the urban area proportion (0.7%).

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Katharine M. Willett, Philip D. Jones, Nathan P. Gillett, and Peter W. Thorne

Abstract

Water vapor constitutes the most significant greenhouse gas, is a key driver of many atmospheric processes, and hence, is fundamental to understanding the climate system. It is a major factor in human “heat stress,” whereby increasing humidity reduces the ability to stay cool. Until now no truly global homogenized surface humidity dataset has existed with which to assess recent changes. The Met Office Hadley Centre and Climatic Research Unit Global Surface Humidity dataset (HadCRUH), described herein, provides a homogenized quality controlled near-global 5° by 5° gridded monthly mean anomaly dataset in surface specific and relative humidity from 1973 to 2003. It consists of land and marine data, and is geographically quasi-complete over the region 60°N–40°S.

Between 1973 and 2003 surface specific humidity has increased significantly over the globe, tropics, and Northern Hemisphere. Global trends are 0.11 and 0.07 g kg−1 (10 yr)−1 for land and marine components, respectively. Trends are consistently larger in the tropics and in the Northern Hemisphere during summer, as expected: warmer regions exhibit larger increases in specific humidity for a given temperature change under conditions of constant relative humidity, based on the Clausius–Clapeyron equation. Relative humidity trends are not significant when averaged over the landmass of the globe, tropics, and Northern Hemisphere, although some seasonal changes are significant.

A strong positive bias is apparent in marine humidity data prior to 1982, likely owing to a known change in reporting practice for dewpoint temperature at this time. Consequently, trends in both specific and relative humidity are likely underestimated over the oceans.

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Alan J. Hewitt, Ben B. B. Booth, Chris D. Jones, Eddy S. Robertson, Andy J. Wiltshire, Philip G. Sansom, David B. Stephenson, and Stan Yip

Abstract

The inclusion of carbon cycle processes within CMIP5 Earth system models provides the opportunity to explore the relative importance of differences in scenario and climate model representation to future land and ocean carbon fluxes. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) approach was used to quantify the variability owing to differences between scenarios and between climate models at different lead times. For global ocean carbon fluxes, the variance attributed to differences between representative concentration pathway scenarios exceeds the variance attributed to differences between climate models by around 2025, completely dominating by 2100. This contrasts with global land carbon fluxes, where the variance attributed to differences between climate models continues to dominate beyond 2100. This suggests that modeled processes that determine ocean fluxes are currently better constrained than those of land fluxes; thus, one can be more confident in linking different future socioeconomic pathways to consequences of ocean carbon uptake than for land carbon uptake. The contribution of internal variance is negligible for ocean fluxes and small for land fluxes, indicating that there is little dependence on the initial conditions. The apparent agreement in atmosphere–ocean carbon fluxes, globally, masks strong climate model differences at a regional level. The North Atlantic and Southern Ocean are key regions, where differences in modeled processes represent an important source of variability in projected regional fluxes.

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Thomas R. Karl, Philip D. Jones, Richard W. Knight, George Kukla, Neil Plummer, Vyacheslav Razuvayev, Kevin P. Gallo, Janette Lindseay, Robert J. Charlson, and Thomas C. Peterson

Monthly mean maximum and minimum temperatures for over 50% (10%) of the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere landmass, accounting for 37% of the global landmass, indicate that the rise of the minimum temperature has occurred at a rate three times that of the maximum temperature during the period 1951–90 (0.84°C versus 0.28°C). The decrease of the diurnal temperature range is approximately equal to the increase of mean temperature. The asymmetry is detectable in all seasons and in most of the regions studied.

The decrease in the daily temperature range is partially related to increases in cloud cover. Furthermore, a large number of atmospheric and surface boundary conditions are shown to differentially affect the maximum and minimum temperature. Linkages of the observed changes in the diurnal temperature range to large-scale climate forcings, such as anthropogenic increases in sulfate aerosols, greenhouse gases, or biomass burning (smoke), remain tentative. Nonetheless, the observed decrease of the diurnal temperature range is clearly important, both scientifically and practically.

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Steven D. Miller, Courtney E. Weeks, Randy G. Bullock, John M. Forsythe, Paul A. Kucera, Barbara G. Brown, Cory A. Wolff, Philip T. Partain, Andrew S. Jones, and David B. Johnson

Abstract

Clouds pose many operational hazards to the aviation community in terms of ceilings and visibility, turbulence, and aircraft icing. Realistic descriptions of the three-dimensional (3D) distribution and temporal evolution of clouds in numerical weather prediction models used for flight planning and routing are therefore of central importance. The introduction of satellite-based cloud radar (CloudSat) and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) sensors to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration A-Train is timely in light of these needs but requires a new paradigm of model-evaluation tools that are capable of exploiting the vertical-profile information. Early results from the National Center for Atmospheric Research Model Evaluation Toolkit (MET), augmented to work with the emergent satellite-based active sensor observations, are presented here. Existing horizontal-plane statistical evaluation techniques have been adapted to operate on observations in the vertical plane and have been extended to 3D object evaluations, leveraging blended datasets from the active and passive A-Train sensors. Case studies of organized synoptic-scale and mesoscale distributed cloud systems are presented to illustrate the multiscale utility of the MET tools. Definition of objects on the basis of radar-reflectivity thresholds was found to be strongly dependent on the model’s ability to resolve details of the cloud’s internal hydrometeor distribution. Contoured-frequency-by-altitude diagrams provide a useful mechanism for evaluating the simulated and observed 3D distributions for regional domains. The expanded MET provides a new dimension to model evaluation and positions the community to better exploit active-sensor satellite observing systems that are slated for launch in the near future.

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