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Climate Dynamics

, Volume 16, Issue 10–11, pp 737–754 | Cite as

Optimal detection and attribution of climate change: sensitivity of results to climate model differences

  • G. C. Hegerl
  • P. A. Stott
  • M. R. Allen
  • J. F. B. Mitchell
  • S. F. B. Tett
  • U. Cubasch

Abstract

Fingerprint techniques for the detection of anthropogenic climate change aim to distinguish the climate response to anthropogenic forcing from responses to other external influences and from internal climate variability. All these responses and the characteristics of internal variability are typically estimated from climate model data. We evaluate the sensitivity of detection and attribution results to the use of response and variability estimates from two different coupled ocean atmosphere general circulation models (HadCM2, developed at the Hadley Centre, and ECHAM3/LSG from the MPI für Meteorologie and Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum). The models differ in their response to greenhouse gas and direct sulfate aerosol forcing and also in the structure of their internal variability. This leads to differences in the estimated amplitude and the significance level of anthropogenic signals in observed 50-year summer (June, July, August) surface temperature trends. While the detection of anthropogenic influence on climate is robust to intermodel differences, our ability to discriminate between the greenhouse gas and the sulfate aerosol signals is not. An analysis of the recent warming, and the warming that occurred in the first half of the twentieth century, suggests that simulations forced with combined changes in natural (solar and volcanic) and anthropogenic (greenhouse gas and sulfate aerosol) forcings agree best with the observations.

Keywords

Internal Variability Sulfate Aerosol Anthropogenic Climate Change Recent Warming Ocean Atmosphere 
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.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. C. Hegerl
    • 1
  • P. A. Stott
    • 2
  • M. R. Allen
    • 3
  • J. F. B. Mitchell
    • 2
  • S. F. B. Tett
    • 2
  • U. Cubasch
    • 4
  1. 1.Texas Center for Climate Studies, Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA E-mail: hegerl@ocean.tamu.eduUS
  2. 2.Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Bracknell, UKGB
  3. 3.Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxford, UKGB
  4. 4.Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum, Hamburg, GermanyDE

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