Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 123, Issue 1–2, pp 349–360 | Cite as

The global warming hiatus—a natural product of interactions of a secular warming trend and a multi-decadal oscillation

  • Shuai-Lei Yao
  • Gang HuangEmail author
  • Ren-Guang Wu
  • Xia Qu
Original Paper


The globally-averaged annual combined land and ocean surface temperature (GST) anomaly change features a slowdown in the rate of global warming in the mid-twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Here, it is shown that the hiatus in the rate of global warming typically occurs when the internally generated cooling associated with the cool phase of the multi-decadal variability overcomes the secular warming from human-induced forcing. We provide compelling evidence that the global warming hiatus is a natural product of the interplays between a secular warming tendency due in a large part to the buildup of anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, in particular CO2 concentration, and internally generated cooling by a cool phase of a quasi-60-year oscillatory variability that is closely associated with the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation (AMO) and the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). We further illuminate that the AMO can be considered as a useful indicator and the PDO can be implicated as a harbinger of variations in global annual average surface temperature on multi-decadal timescales. Our results suggest that the recent observed hiatus in the rate of global warming will very likely extend for several more years due to the cooling phase of the quasi-60-year oscillatory variability superimposed on the secular warming trend.


Pacific Decadal Oscillation Empirical Mode Decomposition Secular Trend Intrinsic Mode Function Pacific Decadal Oscillation Index 
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 Weichen Tao, Guanhuan Wen, and Hainan Gong for the useful discussions and suggestions for this work. Thanks are also due to Shangfeng Chen and Dong Chen for their comments on a previous version of the manuscript. This work is supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2012CB955604 and 2011CB309704), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA05090402), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41275083 and 91337105), and National Outstanding Youth Science Fund Project of China (41425019).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuai-Lei Yao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gang Huang
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Ren-Guang Wu
    • 4
  • Xia Qu
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological DisastersNanjing University of Information Science & TechnologyNanjingChina
  4. 4.Center for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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