Climate Dynamics

, Volume 36, Issue 7–8, pp 1577–1591 | Cite as

Critical influence of the pattern of Tropical Ocean warming on remote climate trends

  • Sang-Ik ShinEmail author
  • Prashant D. Sardeshmukh


Evidence is presented that the recent trend patterns of surface air temperature and precipitation over the land masses surrounding the North Atlantic Ocean (North America, Greenland, Europe, and North Africa) have been strongly influenced by the warming pattern of the tropical oceans. The current generation of atmosphere–ocean coupled climate models with prescribed radiative forcing changes generally do not capture these regional trend patterns. On the other hand, even uncoupled atmospheric models without the prescribed radiative forcing changes, but with the observed oceanic warming specified only in the tropics, are more successful in this regard. The tropical oceanic warming pattern is poorly represented in the coupled simulations. Our analysis points to model error rather than unpredictable climate noise as a major cause of this discrepancy with respect to the observed trends. This tropical error needs to be reduced to increase confidence in regional climate change projections around the globe, and to formulate better societal responses to projected changes in high-impact phenomena such as droughts and wet spells.


Couple Simulation Tropical SSTs Trend Field Radiative Force Change Tropical Oceanic Warming 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank E. Schneider for his comments on an earlier version of manuscript that helped clarify the role of the tropical SST biases on remote trends in the coupled model simulations. The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology kindly provided the ECHAM5 code used in this study. Our own simulations were performed at the NOAA ESRL High Performance Computing Systems (HPCS) facility. This work was partly supported by NOAA’s Climate Program Office.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIRES Climate Diagnostics CenterUniversity of Colorado, and NOAA Earth System Research LaboratoryBoulderUSA
  2. 2.College of Marine ScienceUniversity of South FloridaSt. PetersburgUSA

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