Factors involved in the recent pause in the rise of global mean temperatures are examined seasonally. For 1999 to 2012, the hiatus in surface warming is mainly evident in the central and eastern Pacific. It is manifested as strong anomalous easterly trade winds, distinctive sea-level pressure patterns, and large rainfall anomalies in the Pacific, which resemble the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). These features are accompanied by upper tropospheric teleconnection wave patterns that extend throughout the Pacific, to polar regions, and into the Atlantic. The extratropical features are particularly strong during winter. By using an idealized heating to force a comprehensive atmospheric model, the large negative anomalous latent heating associated with the observed deficit in central tropical Pacific rainfall is shown to be mainly responsible for the global quasi-stationary waves in the upper troposphere. The wave patterns in turn created persistent regional climate anomalies, increasing the odds of cold winters in Europe. Hence, tropical Pacific forcing of the atmosphere such as that associated with a negative phase of the PDO produces many of the pronounced atmospheric circulation anomalies observed globally during the hiatus.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Trenberth, K. E. & Fasullo, J. T. An apparent hiatus in global warming? Earth’s Future 1, 19–32 (2013).
Trenberth, K. E., Caron, J. M., Stepaniak, D. P. & Worley, S. The evolution of ENSO and global atmospheric surface temperatures. J. Geophys. Res. 107, 4065 (2002).
Balmaseda, M. A., Trenberth, K. E. & Källén, E. Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content. Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 1754–1759 (2013).
Cohen, J. L., Furtado, J. C., Barlow, M., Alexeev, V. A & Cherry, J. E. Asymmetric seasonal temperature trends. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L04705 (2012).
Schmidt, G. A., Shindell, D. T. & Tsigaridis, K. Reconciling warming trends. Nature Geosci. 7, 158–160 (2014).
Santer, B. et al. Volcanic contribution to decadal changes in tropospheric temperature. Nature Geosci. 7, 185–189 (2014).
Kosaka, Y. & Xie, S-P. Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling. Nature 501, 403–407 (2013).
Trenberth, K. E., Fasullo, J. T. & Balmaseda, M. A. Earth’s energy imbalance. J. Clim. 27, 3129–3144 (2014).
England, M. et al. Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus. Nature Clim. Change 4, 222–227 (2014).
Palmer, T. Record-breaking winters and global climate change. Science 344, 803–804 (2014).
Deser, C., Alexander, M. A., Xie, S-P. & Phillips, A. S. Sea surface temperature variability: Patterns and mechanisms. Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci. 2, 115–143 (2010).
Merrifield, M. A., Thompson, P. R. & Lander, M. Multidecadal sea level anomalies and trends in the western tropical Pacific. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L13602 (2012).
Holland, P. R. & Kwok, R. Wind-driven trends in Antarctic sea-ice drift. Nature Geosci. 5, 872–875 (2012).
Meehl, G. A., Arblaster, J. M., Fasullo, J. T., Hu, A. & Trenberth, K. E. Model-based evidence of deep-ocean heat uptake during surface-temperature hiatus periods. Nature Clim. Change 1, 360–364 (2011).
Meehl, G. A., Hu, A., Arblaster, J. M., Fasullo, J. T. & Trenberth, K. E. Externally forced and internally generated decadal climate variability in the Pacific. J. Clim. 26, 7298–7310 (2013).
L’Heureux, M., Lee, S. & Lyon, B. Recent multi-decadal strengthening of the Walker Circulation across the tropical Pacific. Nature Clim. Change 3, 571–576 (2013).
Trenberth, K. E. & Guillemot, C. J. Evaluation of the atmospheric moisture and hydrological cycle in the NCEP/NCAR reanalyses. Clim. Dynam. 14, 213–231 (1998).
Halpert, M. S. & Ropelewski, C. F. Atlas of tropical sea surface temperature and surface winds. NOAA Atlas No. 8 (1989)
Trenberth, K. E. & Stepaniak, D. P. Co-variability of components of poleward atmospheric energy transports on seasonal and interannual timescales. J. Clim. 16, 3691–3705 (2003).
Trenberth, K. E. & Stepaniak, D. P. Seamless poleward atmospheric energy transports and implications for the Hadley circulation. J. Clim. 16, 3706–3722 (2003).
Trenberth, K. E. et al. Progress during TOGA in understanding and modeling global teleconnections associated with tropical sea surface temperatures. J. Geophys. Res. 103, 14291–14324 (1998).
Barsugli, J. J. & Sardeshmukh, P. D. Global atmospheric sensitivity to tropical SST anomalies throughout the Indo-Pacific basin. J. Clim. 15, 3427–3442 (2002).
Teng, H. & Branstator, G. A zonal wavenumber 3 pattern of Northern Hemisphere wintertime planetary wave variability at high latitudes. J. Clim. 25, 6756–6769 (2012).
Butler, A. H., Polvani, L. M. & Deser, C. Separating the stratospheric and tropospheric pathways of El Niño–Southern Oscillation teleconnections. Environ. Res. Lett. 9, 024014 (2014).
Seo, K-H. & Son, S-W. The global atmospheric circulation response to tropical diabatic heating associated with the Madden–Julian Oscillation during northern winter. J. Atmos. Sci. 69, 79–96 (2012).
Simmons, A. J., Wallace, J. M. & Branstator, G. W. Barotropic wave propagation and instability and atmospheric teleconnection patterns. J. Atmos. Sci. 40, 1363–1392 (1983).
Palmer, T. N. & Mansfield, D. A. Response of two atmospheric general circulation models to sea-surface temperature anomalies in the tropical East and West Pacific. Nature 310, 483–485 (1984).
Lee, S., Gong, T. T., Johnson, N. C., Feldstein, S. B. & Pollard, D. On the possible link between tropical convection and the Northern Hemisphere Arctic surface air temperature change between 1958–2001. J. Clim. 24, 4350–4367 (2011).
Cassou, C. Intraseasonal interaction between the Madden–Julian Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation. Nature 455, 523–527 (2008).
Lin, H., Brunet, G. & Derome, J. An observed connection between the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Madden–Julian Oscillation. J. Clim. 22, 364–380 (2009).
Ding, Q. et al. Tropical forcing of the recent rapid Arctic warming in northeastern Canada and Greenland. Nature 509, 209–213 (2014).
Francis, J. A. & Vavrus, S. J. Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L06801 (2012).
Tang, Q., Zhang, X. & Francis, J. A. Extreme summer weather in northern mid-latitudes linked to a vanishing cryosphere. Nature Clim. Change 4, 45–50 (2014).
Barnes, E. A. Revisiting the evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in midlatitudes. Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 4734–4739 (2013).
Barnes, E. A., Dunn-Sigouin, E., Masato, G. & Woollings, T. Exploring recent trends in Northern Hemisphere blocking. Geophys. Res. Lett. 41, 638–644 (2014).
Wallace, J. M., Held, I. M., Thompson, D. W. J., Trenberth, K. E. & Walsh, J. E. Global warming and winter weather. Science 343, 729–730 (2014).
Yoo, C., Feldstein, S. & Lee, S. Impact of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) trend on the polar amplification of surface air temperature during 1979–2008 boreal winter. Geophys. Res. Lett. 38, L24804 (2011).
Lee, S. Testing of the tropically excited Arctic warming (TEAM) mechanism with traditional El Niño and La Niña. J. Clim. 25, 4015–4022 (2012).
Lee, S. A theory for polar amplification from a general circulation perspective. Asia-Pacific J. Atmos. Sci. 50, 31–43 (2014).
Ding, Q., Battisti, D. S. & Küttel, M. Winter warming in West Antarctica caused by central tropical Pacific warming. Nature Geosci. 4, 398–403 (2011).
The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. This research is partially sponsored by NASA under grant NNX09AH89G.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Trenberth, K., Fasullo, J., Branstator, G. et al. Seasonal aspects of the recent pause in surface warming. Nature Clim Change 4, 911–916 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2341
Impact of internal variability on recent opposite trends in wintertime temperature over the Barents–Kara Seas and central Eurasia
Climate Dynamics (2022)
Impact of Ural blocking on sub-seasonal Siberian cold anomalies modulated by the winter East Asian trough
Climate Dynamics (2022)
Climate Dynamics (2022)
Understanding the Soil Temperature Variability at Different Depths: Effects of Surface Air Temperature, Snow Cover, and the Soil Memory
Advances in Atmospheric Sciences (2021)
Climate Dynamics (2021)