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Celebrating the anniversary of three key events in climate change science

Climate science celebrates three 40th anniversaries in 2019: the release of the Charney report, the publication of a key paper on anthropogenic signal detection, and the start of satellite temperature measurements. This confluence of scientific understanding and data led to the identification of human fingerprints in atmospheric temperature.

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Fig. 1: Signal-to-noise ratios used for identifying a model-predicted anthropogenic fingerprint in 40 years of satellite measurements of annual-mean tropospheric temperature.

Data availability

All primary satellite and model temperature datasets used here are publicly available. Derived products (synthetic satellite temperatures calculated from model simulations) are provided at:


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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 for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP, the US Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. The authors thank S. Solomon (MIT) and K. Denman, N. McFarlane and K. von Salzen (Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis) for helpful comments. Work at LLNL was performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy under contract DE-AC52-07NA27344 through the Regional and Global Model Analysis Program (B.D.S., J.F.P., and M.Z.), the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program under Project 18-ERD-054 (S.P.-C.), and the Early Career Research Program Award SCW1295 (C.B.). Support was also provided by NASA Grant NNH12CF05C (F.J.W. and C.M.), NOAA Grant NA18OAR4310423 (Q.F), and by NOAA’s Climate Program Office, Climate Monitoring Program, and NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System Program Office, Proving Ground and Risk Reduction Program (C.-Z.Z.). G.H. was supported by the European Research Council TITAN project (EC-320691) and by the Wolfson Foundation and the Royal Society as a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holder (WM130060). The views, opinions and findings contained in this report are those of the authors and should not be construed as a position, policy, or decision of the US Government, the US Department of Energy, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Authors and Affiliations



B.D.S. conceived the study and performed statistical analyses. J.F.P. calculated synthetic satellite temperatures from model simulation output. C.M., F.J.W., and C.-Z.Z. provided satellite temperature data. All authors contributed to the writing and revision of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Benjamin D. Santer.

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods and Supplementary Tables S1-S3

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Santer, B.D., Bonfils, C.J.W., Fu, Q. et al. Celebrating the anniversary of three key events in climate change science. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 180–182 (2019).

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