Title: Application of the Singular Spectrum Analysis Technique to Study the Recent Hiatus on the Global Surface Temperature Record
Citation: PLOS ONE vol. 9 no. 9 p. e107222
Publication Year: 2014
JRC N°: JRC88806
ISSN: 1932-6203
URI: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0107222
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107222
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Global mean surface temperature has been increasing since the beginning of the 20th century but with a highly variable warming rate, and the alternation of rapid warming periods with ‘hiatus’ decades is a constant throughout the series. The superimposition of a secular warming trend with natural multidecadal variability is the most accepted explanation for such a pattern. Since the start of the 21st century, the surface global mean temperature has not risen at the same rate as the top-of-atmosphere radiative energy input or greenhouse gas emissions, provoking scientific and social interest in determining the causes of this apparent discrepancy. Again, multidecadal natural variability is the most commonly proposed cause for the present hiatus period. Here, we analyze the longest and most up-to-date surface temperature database (HadCRUT4) with spectral techniques to separate a multidecadal oscillation (MDV) from a secular trend (ST). Both signals combined account for nearly 88% of the total variability of the temperature series showing the main acceleration/deceleration periods already described elsewhere. Three stalling periods with very little warming could be found within the series, from 1878 to 1907, from 1945 to 1969 and from 2001 to the end of the series. All of them coincided with a cooling phase of the MDV while the ST has shown a quasi-permanent warming trend from the beginning of the 20th century. Henceforth, MDV seems to be the main cause of the different hiatus periods shown by the global surface temperature records. However, and contrary to the two previous events, during the current hiatus period (2001–2013), the ST shows a strong fluctuation on the warming rate, with a large acceleration (from 0.0085°C year-1 to 0.017°C year-1) during 1992 – 2001 a and sharp deceleration (from 0.017°C year-1 to 0.003°C year-1) from 2002 onwards. This is the first time in the observational record that the ST shows such a drastic variability, so determining the causes and consequences of this change of behavior needs to be addressed by the scientific community.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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