TITLE

The Effect of Local Circulation Variability on the Detection and Attribution of New Zealand Temperature Trends

AUTHOR(S)
Dean, S. M.; Stott, P. A.
PUB. DATE
December 2009
SOURCE
Journal of Climate;Dec2009, Vol. 22 Issue 23, p6217
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
A representative temperature record for New Zealand based on station data from 1853 onward is used in conjunction with four coupled climate models to investigate the causes of recent warming over this small midlatitude country. The observed variability over interannual and decadal time scales is simulated well by the models. The variability of simulated 50-yr trends is consistent with the very short observational record. For a simple detection analysis it is not possible to separate the observed 30- and 50-yr temperature trends from the distribution created by internal variability in the model control simulations. A pressure index that is representative of meridional flow (M1) is used to show that the models fail to simulate an observed trend to more southerly flows in the region. The strong relationship between interannual temperature variability and the M1 index in both the observations and the models is used to remove the influence of this circulation variability from the temperature records. Recent 50-yr trends in the residual temperature record cannot be explained by natural climate variations, but they are consistent with the combined climate response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, ozone depletion, and sulfate aerosols, demonstrating a significant human influence on New Zealand warming. This result highlights the effect of circulation variability on regional detection and attribution analyses. Such variability can either mask or accelerate human-induced warming in observed trends, underscoring the importance of determining the underlying forced trend, and the need to adequately capture regional circulation effects in climate models.
ACCESSION #
45427509

 

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