Advertisement

Climatic Change

, Volume 70, Issue 1–2, pp 9–29 | Cite as

Climate Variability and Change: Past, Present and Future – An Overview

  • M. James Salinger
Article

Abstract

Prior to the 20th century Northern Hemisphere average surface air temperatures have varied in the order of 0.5 C back to AD 1000. Various climate reconstructions indicate that slow cooling took place until the beginning of the 20th century. Subsequently, global-average surface air temperature increased by about 0.6 ∘C with the 1990s being the warmest decade on record. The pattern of warming has been greatest over mid-latitude northern continents in the latter part of the century. At the same time the frequency of air frosts has decreased over many land areas, and there has been a drying in the tropics and sub-tropics. The late 20th century changes have been attributed to global warming because of increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations due to human activities. Underneath these trends is that of decadal scale variability in the Pacific basin at least induced by the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), which causes decadal changes in climate averages. On interannnual timescales El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) causes much variability throughout many tropical and subtropical regions and some mid-latitude areas. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) provides climate perturbations over Europe and northern Africa. During the course of the 21st century global-average surface temperatures are very likely to increase by 2 to 4.5 C as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increase. At the same time there will be changes in precipitation, and climate extremes such as hot days, heavy rainfall and drought are expected to increase in many areas. The combination of global warming, superimposed on decadal climate variability (IPO) and interannual fluctuations (ENSO, NAO) are expected lead to a century of increasing climate variability and change that will be unprecedented in the history of human settlement. Although the changes of the past and present have stressed food and fibre production at times, the 21st century changes will be extremely challenging to agriculture and forestry.

Keywords

North Atlantic Oscillation Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation Decadal Climate Decadal Climate Variability Century Change 
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.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Folland, C. K., Karl, T. R., Christy, J. R., Clarke, R. A., Gruza, G. V., Jouzel, J., Mann, M. E., Oerlemanns, J., Salinger, M. J., and Wang, S-W.: 2001, ‘Observed Climate Variability and Change’, in Houghton, J. H., Ding, Y., Griggs, D. J., Noguer, M., van der Linder, P. J., Dai, X., Maskell, K., and Johnson, C. A.(eds.), Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Contribution of Working Group 1 to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 99–182.Google Scholar
  2. Frich, P., Alexander, L. V., Della-Marta, P., Gleason, B., Haylock, M., Klein-Tank, A., Peterson, T., and Plummer, N.: 2000, Global Changes in Climatic Extremes During the Second Half of the 20th Century, Report of WMO CCL/CLIVER Working Group on Climate Change.Google Scholar
  3. Hulme, M., Osborn, T. J., and Johns, T. C.: 1998, ‘Precipitation sensitivity to global warming: Comparison of observations with HadCM2 simulations’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 25, 3379–3382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hurrell, J. W.: 1995, ‘Decadal trends in the North Atlantic oscillation regional temperatures and precipitation’, Science 269, 676–679.Google Scholar
  5. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC): 1996, Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, in Houghton, J. T., Meira Filho, L. G., Callander, B. A., Harris, N., Kattenberg, A., and Maskell, K., (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., 570 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC): 2000, Emissions Scenariois: Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, in Nakicenovic, N. and Swart, R. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., 599 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC): 2001a, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, in Houghton, J. H., Ding, Y., Griggs, D. J., Noguer, M., van der Linder, P. J., Dai. X., Maskell, K., and Johnson, C. A. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., 881 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC): 2001b, Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, in McCarthy, J. J., Canziani, O. F., Leary, N. A., Dokken, D. J., and White, K. S. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., 1032 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC): 2001c, Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report, in Watson, R. T. (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., 147 pp. and appendices.Google Scholar
  10. Jones, P. D., Osborn, T. J., Briffa, K. R., Folland, C. K., Horton, E. B., Alexander, L. V., Parker, D. E., and Rayner, N. A.: 2001, ‘Adjusting for sampling density in grid box land and ocean surface temperature time series’, J. Geophys. Res. 106, 3371–3380(R).Google Scholar
  11. Lamb, H. H.: 1982, ClimateHistory and the Modern World, Methuen and Co., London, UK., 387 pp.Google Scholar
  12. Livezey, R. E. and Smith, T. M.: 1999, ‘Covariability of aspects of North American climate with global sea surface temperatures on interannual to interdecadal timescales’, J. Clim. 12, 289–302.Google Scholar
  13. Mann, M. E., Bradley, R. S., and Hughes, M. K.: 2000, ‘Long-term variability in the El Nino Southern Oscillation and associated teleconnections’, in Diaz, H. F. and Markgraf, V. (eds.), El Nino and the Southern Oscillation: Multiscale Variability and its Impacts on Natural Ecosystems and Society, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., pp. 357–412.Google Scholar
  14. Nicholson, S. E.: 1989, ‘Long-term changes in African rainfall’, Weather 44, 46–56.Google Scholar
  15. Pfister,C., Brazdil, R., and Glaser, R.: 1999, Climatic Variability in Sixteenth-Century Europe and its Social Dimension, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 351 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Power, S., Casey, T., Folland, C. K., Colman, A., and Mehta, V.: 1999, ‘Inter-decadal modulation of the impact of ENSO on Australia’, Clim. Dyn. 15, 319–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Salinger, M. J.: 1994, Climate variability, agriculture and forests, WMO Technical Note 196, Geneva.Google Scholar
  18. Salinger, M. J., Allan, R., Bindoff., N., Hannah, J., Lavery, B., Lin, Z., Lindesay, J., Nicholls, N., Plummer, N., and Torok, S.:1996, ‘Observed variability and change in climate and sea-level in Oceania’, in Bouma, W. J., Pearman, G. I., and Manning, M. (eds.), Greenhouse: Coping with Climate Change, CSIRO, Melbourne, pp. 100–126.Google Scholar
  19. Salinger, M. J., Desjardins, R., Jones, M. B., Sivakumar, M. V. K., Strommen, N. D., Veerasamy, S., and Lianhai, W.: 1997, Climate variability, agriculture and forestry: An update, WMO Technical Note 199, Geneva.Google Scholar
  20. Salinger, M. J., Desjardins, R. L., Janzen, H., Karing, P. H., Veeresamy, S., and Zipoli, G.: 1999, Climate Variability, Agriculture and Forestry: Towards Sustainability, Report of the CagM-XI Rapporteurs on the effects of climate variability and climate change on agriculture and forestry, WMO, Geneva.Google Scholar
  21. Salinger, M. J., Stigter, C. J., and Das, H. P.: 2000, ‘Agrometeorological adaptation strategies to increasing climate variability and change’, Agric. Forest. Meteorol. 103, 167–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Salinger, M. J., Renwick, J. A., and Mullan, A. B.: 2001, ‘Interdecadal pacific oscillation and south pacific climate’, Int. J. Climatol. 21, 1705–1721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Stahle, D. W. et al .: 1998, ‘Experimental dendroclimatic reconstruction of the southern oscillation’, Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 79 (10), 2137–2152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Stott, P. A., Tett, S. F. B., Jones, G. S., Allen, M. R., Mitchell, J. F. B., and Jenkins, G. J.: 2000, ‘External control of twentieth century temperature variations by natural and anthropogenic forcings’, Science 15, 2133–2137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tett, S. F. B. et al.:2000, ‘Estimation of natural and anthropogenic contributions to 20th century climate’, Hadley Centre Technical Note 19, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Meteorological Office, UK, 52 pp.Google Scholar
  26. Thompson, D. W. J. and Wallace, J. M.: 2000, ‘Annual modes in the extratropical circulation Part I: Month-to-month variability’, J. Clim. 13, 1000–1016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Thompson, D. W. J., Wallace, J. M., and Hegerl, G. C.: 2000, ‘Annual modes in the extratropical circulation Part II: Trends’, J. Clim. 13, 1018–1036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Trenberth, K. E. and Hoar, T. J.: 1996, ‘The 1990–1995 El Niño-Southern oscillation event: Longest on record’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 23, 57–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wigley, T. M. L. and Raper, S. C. B.: 2001, ‘Interpretation of high projections for global-mean warming’, Science 293(5529), 451–454.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. United Nations: 1992, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Rio de Janeiro, 33 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric ResearchNewmarket, AucklandNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations