Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 505–518

Uncertainty estimation of the global temperature trends for multiple radiosondes, reanalyses, and CMIP3/IPCC climate model simulations

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00704-011-0548-z

Cite this article as:
Xu, J. & Powell, A.M. Theor Appl Climatol (2012) 108: 505. doi:10.1007/s00704-011-0548-z


Based on three groups of datasets that include radiosondes, reanalyses, and climate model simulations (e.g., Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, CMIP3) from 1979 to 2008, the interannual variability, global temperature trends, and their uncertainty using ensemble spread among intra-group and inter-group datasets have been discussed. The results show that the interannual temperature variability increased from the troposphere to stratosphere, and the maximum occurs around 50 hPa. The CMIP3 climate models have the largest discrepancy in the stratosphere. The intra-group correlations at 500 hPa generally show high similarity within each data group while the inter-group correlations between reanalyses and the CMIP3 climate model simulations indicate lesser similarity. In contrast, the inter-group correlation at 50 hPa is improved except with the Japanese 25-year Reanalysis Project (JRA-25) dataset, and the Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CR) reanalysis shows a weak cross correlation. The global temperature trends are highly dependent on the individual data sources. Compared to the radiosondes, the reanalyses show a large ensemble spread of trends in the stratosphere, and the CMIP3 climate model simulations have a large ensemble spread in the height of the crossover point where tropospheric warming changes into stratospheric cooling. The largest ensemble spread among the reanalyses in the stratosphere is mainly from the large discrepancy in the JRA-25 reanalysis after 1998 and a relatively weak anomaly in the 20CR before 1986. The largest ensemble spread among the CMIP3 climate models in the troposphere is related to the influence of both volcanic eruptions and El Niño/La Niña–Southern Oscillation events. The strong anomalies corresponding to the volcanic eruptions of El Chichon in 1982 and Mt Pinatubo in 1991 are clearly identified in the stratosphere. These volcanic eruptions reduced the warming in the troposphere and strengthened the cooling in the stratosphere during the most recent 30 years.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Science and Technological Center, College of ScienceGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.NOAA/NESDIS/Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR)Camp SpringsUSA

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