A large discontinuity in the mid-twentieth century in observed global-mean surface temperature

Thompson, David W. J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5413-4376, Kennedy, John J., Wallace, John M. and Jones, Phil D. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5032-5493 (2008) A large discontinuity in the mid-twentieth century in observed global-mean surface temperature. Nature, 453 (7195). pp. 646-649.

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Data sets used to monitor the Earth's climate indicate that the surface of the Earth warmed from ~1910 to 1940, cooled slightly from ~1940 to 1970, and then warmed markedly from ~1970 onward. The weak cooling apparent in the middle part of the century has been interpreted in the context of a variety of physical factors, such as atmosphere-ocean interactions and anthropogenic emissions of sulphate aerosols. Here we call attention to a previously overlooked discontinuity in the record at 1945, which is a prominent feature of the cooling trend in the mid-twentieth century. The discontinuity is evident in published versions of the global-mean temperature time series, but stands out more clearly after the data are filtered for the effects of internal climate variability. We argue that the abrupt temperature drop of ~0.3°C in 1945 is the apparent result of uncorrected instrumental biases in the sea surface temperature record. Corrections for the discontinuity are expected to alter the character of mid-twentieth century temperature variability but not estimates of the century-long trend in global-mean temperatures.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 13 - climate action ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/climate_action
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Rosie Cullington
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2011 11:52
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 01:06
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/24797
DOI: 10.1038/nature06982

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