Letter | Published:

Climate model simulations of the observed early-2000s hiatus of global warming

Nature Climate Change volume 4, pages 898902 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

The slowdown in the rate of global warming in the early 2000s is not evident in the multi-model ensemble average of traditional climate change projection simulations1. However, a number of individual ensemble members from that set of models successfully simulate the early-2000s hiatus when naturally-occurring climate variability involving the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) coincided, by chance, with the observed negative phase of the IPO that contributed to the early-2000s hiatus. If the recent methodology of initialized decadal climate prediction could have been applied in the mid-1990s using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 multi-models, both the negative phase of the IPO in the early 2000s as well as the hiatus could have been simulated, with the multi-model average performing better than most of the individual models. The loss of predictive skill for six initial years before the mid-1990s points to the need for consistent hindcast skill to establish reliability of an operational decadal climate prediction system.

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Acknowledgements

Portions of this study were supported by the Regional and Global Climate Modeling Program (RGCM) of the US Department of Energy’s Office of Biological & Environmental Research (BER) Cooperative Agreement # DE-FC02-97ER62402, and the National Science Foundation. We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modelling groups (listed in Table 1 of the Supplementary Information) for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP, the US Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado 80307, USA

    • Gerald A. Meehl
    • , Haiyan Teng
    •  & Julie M. Arblaster
  2. CAWCR, Melbourne 3001, Australia

    • Julie M. Arblaster

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Contributions

G.A.M. conceived the study and wrote the initial draft of the paper. H.T. conducted and analysed the CMIP5 hindcasts. J.M.A. analysed the model and observational data. All authors contributed to interpreting the results, discussion of the associated dynamics and refinement of the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gerald A. Meehl.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2357

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