Characterizing and attributing the warming trend in sea and land surface temperatures

Francisco Estrada, Luis Felipe Martins, Pierre Perron

Abstract

Because of low-frequency internal variability, the observed and underlying warming trends in temperature series can be markedly different. Important differences in the observed nonlinear trends in hemispheric temperature series suggest that the northern and southern hemispheres have responded differently to the changes in the radiative forcing. Using recent econometric techniques, we can reconcile such differences and show that all sea and land temperatures share similar time series properties and a common underlying warming trend having a dominant anthropogenic origin. We also investigate the interhemispheric temperature asymmetry (ITA) and show that the differences in warming between hemispheres are in part driven by anthropogenic forcing but that most of the observed rapid changes is likely due to natural variability. The attribution of changes in ITA is relevant since increases in the temperature contrast between hemispheres could potentially produce a shift in the Intertropical Convergence Zone and alter rainfall patterns. The existence of a current slowdown in the warming and its causes are also investigated. The results suggest that the slowdown is a common feature in global and hemispheric sea and land temperatures that can, at least partly, be attributed to changes in anthropogenic forcing.

Keywords

Climate change; warming hiatus; structural break; co-trending; principal component analysis

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