Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 01 July 2004
  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 01 July 2004


Spatially resolved global reconstructions of annual surface temperature patterns over the past six centuries are based on the multivariate calibration of widely distributed high-resolution proxy climate indicators. Time-dependent correlations of the reconstructions with time-series records representing changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations, solar irradiance, and volcanic aerosols suggest that each of these factors has contributed to the climate variability of the past 400 years, with greenhouse gases emerging as the dominant forcing during the twentieth century. Northern Hemisphere mean annual temperatures for three of the past eight years are warmer than any other year since (at least) ad 1400.

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Figure 1: Data used in this study.
Figure 2: Empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) for the five leading eigenvectors of the global temperature data from 1902 to 1980.
Figure 3: Spatial patterns of reconstruction statistics.
Figure 4: Comparison of the proxy-based spatial reconstructions of the anomaly pattern for 1941 versus the raw data.
Figure 5: Time reconstructions (solid lines) along with raw data (dashed lines).
Figure 6: Reconstructed annual temperature patterns for two example years.
Figure 7: Relationships of Northern Hemisphere mean (NH) temperature with three candidate forcings between 1610 and 1995.


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This work benefited from discussions with M. Cane, E. Cook, M. Evans, A. Kaplan and collaborators at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. We acknowledge discussions with K. Briffa, T.Crowley, P. Jones, S. Manabe, R. Saravanan and K. Trenberth, as well as the comments of G. Hegerl. We thank R.D'Arrigo, D. Fisher, G. Jacoby, J. Lean, A. Robock, D. Stahle, C. Stockton, E. Vaganov, R. Villalba and the numerous contributors to the International Tree-Ring Data Bank and other palaeoclimate researchers who have made their data available to us for use in this study; we also thank F. Keimig, M. Munro, R. Holmes and C. Aramann for their technical assistance. This work was supported by the NSF and the US Department of Energy. M.E.M. acknowledges support through the Alexander Hollaender Distinguished Postdoctoral Research Fellowship program of the Department of Energy. This work is a contribution to the NSF- and NOAA-sponsored Analysis of Rapid and Recent Climatic Change (ARRCC) project.

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Correspondence to Michael E. Mann.

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Mann, M., Bradley, R. & Hughes, M. Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries. Nature 392, 779–787 (1998) doi:10.1038/33859

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