Climate Dynamics

, Volume 45, Issue 9–10, pp 2919–2936 | Cite as

Attributing observed Greenland responses to natural and anthropogenic climate forcings

  • Heather J. Andres
  • W. R. Peltier


We attribute climate variability in four independent reconstructions of Greenland-average temperature and precipitation over the twentieth century. The reconstructions exhibit substantial differences in the timing and amplitudes of climate variations. Linear, empirical models of Greenland-average temperature and precipitation variations on multi-decadal timescales are established from a suite of Community Climate System Model 3 simulations of the preindustrial millennium. They are compared against observational reconstructions after being tested against simulations of the industrial and future periods. Empirical estimates of variations over the industrial and future periods are correlated at greater than 0.95 with simulated values. Greenhouse gas increases account for the majority of the temperature and precipitation increases after the mid-1900s. In contrast to the simulations, observed temperatures and precipitation do not increase until the mid-1990s. Thus, the empirical models over-predict the response to greenhouse gases over the twentieth century. We conclude that CCSM3 is not capturing processes that are proving important to Greenland surface conditions. Furthermore, modes of North Atlantic variability exhibit opposite relationships with some observations compared with the simulations. In those cases, reversing the sign of this component of variability yields significant correlations between the estimated and observed accumulation values.


Greenland Climate change Climate reconstructions  Industrial period Climate variability Global simulations 



H.J.A. thanks T. Andres, Drs. K. Smith, I. Simpson and G. Vettoretti for their helpful discussions. The research of WRP at Toronto has been supported by NSERC Discovery Grant A9627 and by NOAA Grant NA110AR4310101. Computations were performed on the TCS supercomputer at the SciNet HPC Consortium. SciNet is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation under the auspices of Compute Canada; the Government of Ontario; Ontario Research Fund—Research Excellence; and the University of Toronto. Numerous datasets were employed in this study. Those whose sources are not already referenced above are acknowledged here. (1) AND: Downloaded from (2) 20CR: twentieth Century Reanalysis V2 data was provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, CO, USA from their website at Support for the twentieth Century Reanalysis Project dataset is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (DOE INCITE) program, and Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administraion Climate Program Office. (3) BOX: Obtained directly from Dr. J.E. Box.

Supplementary material

382_2015_2514_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (239 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 238 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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