An oscillation in the global climate system of period 65–70 years

Abstract

IN addition to the well-known warming of 0.5 °C since the middle of the nineteenth century, global-mean surface temperature records1–4display substantial variability on timescales of a century or less. Accurate prediction of future temperature change requires an understanding of the causes of this variability; possibilities include external factors, such as increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations5–7 and anthropogenic sulphate aerosols8–10, and internal factors, both predictable (such as El Niño11) and unpredictable (noise12,13). Here we apply singular spectrum analysis14–20 to four global-mean temperature records1–4, and identify a temperature oscillation with a period of 65–70 years. Singular spectrum analysis of the surface temperature records for 11 geographical regions shows that the 65–70-year oscillation is the statistical result of 50–88-year oscillations for the North Atlantic Ocean and its bounding Northern Hemisphere continents. These oscillations have obscured the greenhouse warming signal in the North Atlantic and North America. Comparison with previous observations and model simulations suggests that the oscillation arises from predictable internal variability of the ocean–atmosphere system.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Folland, C. K., et al. in Climate Change 1992—The Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment (eds Houghton, J. T., Callander, B. A. & Varney, S. K.) 135–170 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Jones, P. D., Wigley, T. M. L. & Farmer, G. in Greenhouse-Gas-Induced Climatic Change: A Critical Appraisal of Simulations and Observations. (ed. Schlesinger, M. E.) 153–172 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1991).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Hansen, J. & Lebedeff, S. Geophys. Res. Lett. 15, 323–326 (1988).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Vinnikov, K. Ya., Groisman, P. Ya. & Lugina, K. M. J. Clim. 3, 662–677 (1990).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Houghton, J. T., Jenkins, G. J. & Ephraums, J. J. (eds) Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990).

  6. 6

    Houghton, J. T., Callander, B. A. & Varney, S. K. (eds) Climate Change 1992—The Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992).

  7. 7

    Wigley, T. M. L. & Raper, S. C. B. Nature 357, 293–300 (1992).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Wigley, T. M. L. Nature 339, 365–367 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Schlesinger, M. E., Jiang, X. & Charlson, R. J. in Climate Change and Energy Policy: Proceedings of the International Conference on Global Climate Change: Its Mitigation Through Improved Production and Use of Energy (eds Rosen, L. & Glasser, R.) 75–108 (Am. Inst. Phys., New York, 1992).

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Schlesinger, M. E. & Ramankutty, N. Nature 360, 330–333 (1992).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Quinn, W. H. & Neal, V. T. J. geophys. Res. 92, 14449–14461 (1987).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Wigley, T. M. L. & Raper, S. C. B. Nature 344, 324–327 (1990).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Bloomfield, P & Nychka, D. Clim. Change 21, 275–287 (1992).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Broomhead, D. S. & King, G. P. Physica 20D, 217–236 (1986).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Fraedrich, K. J. atmos. Sci. 43, 419–432 (1986).

    ADS  MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Vautard, R. & Ghil, M. Physica 35D, 395–424 (1989).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Vautard, R., Yiou, P. & Ghil, M. Physica 58D, 95–126 (1992).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Ghil, M. & Vautard, R. Nature 350, 324–327 (1991).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Elsner, J. B. & Tsonis, A. A. Nature 353, 551–553 (1991).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Allen, M. R., Read, P. L. & Smith, L. A. Nature 355, 686 (1992).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Greenhouse Effect Detection Experiment CD-ROM (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 1992).

  22. 22

    Hasselmann, K. Tellus, 473–485 (1976).

  23. 23

    Friis-Christensen, E. & Lassen, K. Science 254, 698–700 (1991).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Kelly, P. M. & Wigley, T. M. L. Nature 360, 328–330 (1992).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Wetherald, R. T. & Manabe, S. J. atmos. Sci. 32, 2044–2059 (1975).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Nesme-Ribes, E., Ferreira, E. N., Sadourny, R., Le Treut, H. & Li, Z. X. J. geophys. Res. 98, 18923–18935 (1993).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Bjerknes, J. in Advances in Geophysics Vol. 10 (eds Landsberg, H. E. & Van Mieghem, J.) 1–82 (Academic, New York, 1964).

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Levitus, S. J. geophys. Res. 94, 6091–6131 (1989).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Kushnir, Y. J. Clim. 7, 141–157 (1994).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Delworth, T., Manabe, S. & Stouffer, R. J. J. Clim. 6, 1993–2011 (1993).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Michaels, P. J. Bull. Am. met. Soc. 73, 1563–1577 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32

    Taylor, K. C. et al. Nature 361, 432–436 (1993).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33

    Greenland Ice-core Project (GRIP) Members Nature 364, 203–207 (1993).

  34. 34

    Dansgaard, W. et al. Nature 364, 218–220 (1993).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Schlesinger, M., Ramankutty, N. An oscillation in the global climate system of period 65–70 years. Nature 367, 723–726 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1038/367723a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing