Journal Highlights

Separating natural and human-induced warming trends

Both natural and human-induced influences have changed twentieth-century climate, but their relative roles and regional impacts are still under debate. For example, most model-based studies point to increasing human-generated greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations as the dominant cause of global surface warming after 1967, while some empirical analyses suggest that solar variability accounts for as much as 69% of warming seen in the past 100 years and 25–35% of recent warming. To help resolve this, Lean and Rind (2008) analyzed the best available estimates of both natural and human-induced climate influences and compared them with observed surface temperatures across the globe from 1889 to 2006. They found that solar forcing contributed negligible long-term warming in the past 25 years and 10% of the warming in the past 100 years. Additionally, in contrast with recent model results by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which estimates that anthropogenic warming has minimum values in the tropics and increases steadily from 30°N to 70°N, the authors found that the zonal surface temperature changes from the historical surface temperature record are more pronounced between 45°S and 50°N.


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Featured Special Collection

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades 

The atmosphere varies naturally on all length scales from millimeters to thousands of kilometers, and on all time scales from seconds to decades and longer.  This special collection of Geophysical Research Letters synthesizes and summarizes that variability through a phenomenological census.  The collection brings together some of the most influential and definitive papers to have been published in this journal in recent years.  The topics covered include turbulence on time scales of seconds and minutes, gravity waves on time scales of hours, weather systems on time scales of days, atmospheric blocking on time scales of weeks, the Madden–Julian Oscillation on time scales of months, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation on time scales of years, and the North Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Decadal, and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillations on time scales of decades.  The collection is accompanied by a Commentary article, which provides an authoritative, concise, and accessible point of reference for the most important modes of atmospheric variability.

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades