The question of how climate model projections have tracked the actual evolution of global mean surface air temperature is important in establishing the credibility of their projections. Some studies and the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report suggest that the recent 15-year period (1998–2012) provides evidence that models are overestimating current temperature evolution. Such comparisons are not evidence against model trends because they represent only one realization where the decadal natural variability component of the model climate is generally not in phase with observations. We present a more appropriate test of models where only those models with natural variability (represented by El Niño/Southern Oscillation) largely in phase with observations are selected from multi-model ensembles for comparison with observations. These tests show that climate models have provided good estimates of 15-year trends, including for recent periods and for Pacific spatial trend patterns.
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This work was financially supported by the Climate Adaptation and Wealth from Oceans Flagships of CSIRO, and the Australian Research Council.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Risbey, J., Lewandowsky, S., Langlais, C. et al. Well-estimated global surface warming in climate projections selected for ENSO phase. Nature Clim Change 4, 835–840 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2310
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