The impact of natural and anthropogenic forcings on climate and hydrology since 1550

Abstract

A climate simulation of an ocean/atmosphere general circulation model driven with natural forcings alone (constant “pre-industrial” land-cover and well-mixed greenhouse gases, changing orbital, solar and volcanic forcing) has been carried out from 1492 to 2000. Another simulation driven with natural and anthropogenic forcings (changes in greenhouse gases, ozone, the direct and first indirect effect of anthropogenic sulphate aerosol and land-cover) from 1750 to 2000 has also been carried out. These simulations suggest that since 1550, in the absence of anthropogenic forcings, climate would have warmed by about 0.1 K. Simulated response is not in equilibrium with the external forcings suggesting that both climate sensitivity and the rate at which the ocean takes up heat determine the magnitude of the response to forcings since 1550. In the simulation with natural forcings climate sensitivity is similar to other simulations of HadCM3 driven with CO2 alone. Climate sensitivity increases when anthropogenic forcings are included. The natural forcing used in our experiment increases decadal–centennial time-scale and large spatial scale climate variability, relative to internal variability, as diagnosed from a control simulation. Mean conditions in the natural simulation are cooler than in our control simulation reflecting the reduction in forcing. However, over certain regions there is significant warming, relative to control, due to an increase in forest cover. Comparing the simulation driven by anthropogenic and natural forcings with the natural-only simulation suggests that anthropogenic forcings have had a significant impact on, particularly tropical, climate since the early nineteenth century. Thus the entire instrumental temperature record may be “contaminated” by anthropogenic influences. Both the hydrological cycle and cryosphere are also affected by anthropogenic forcings. Changes in tree-cover appear to be responsible for some of the local and hydrological changes as well as an increase in northern hemisphere spring snow cover.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15

Notes

  1. 1.

    This value is in error due to use of the C ontrol value rather than the correct pre-industrial value of 700 ppbv. The consequent error in radiative forcing is about  + 0.05 W/m2.

References

  1. Alexander LV, Jones PD (2001) Updated precipitation for the UK and discussion of recent extremes. Atmos Sci Lett 1. DOI 10.1006/asle.2001.0025

  2. Allan R, Lindesay J, Parker DE (1996) El Nino Southern Oscillation and Climatic Variability. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood

    Google Scholar 

  3. Allen MR, Ingram WJ (2002) Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle. Nature 419:224–232

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barnett TP, Hegerl G, Knudson T, Tett S (2000) Uncertainty levels in predicted patterns of anthropogenic climate change. J Geophys Res 105:15525–15542

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Berger AL (1978) Long-term variations of daily insolation and quaternary climatic. J Atmos Sci 35(12):2362–2367

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Betts RA (2000) Offset of the potential carbon sink from boreal forestation by decreases in surface albedo. Nature 408:187–190

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Betts RA (2001) Biogeophysical impacts of land use on present-day climate: near-surface temperature and radiative forcing. Atmos Sci Lett. DOI 10.1006/asle.2000.0023

  8. Betts R, Falloon P (2005) Biogeophysical effects of land use on climate: model simulations of radiative forcings and large-scale temperature change. Agric Forest Meteorol (accepted)

  9. Bradley RS (1996) Are there optimum sites for global paleo-temperature reconstructions. In: Jones PD, Bradley RS, Jouzel J (eds) Climate variations and forcing mechanisms of the last 2000 year. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 603–624

    Google Scholar 

  10. Brohan P, Kennedy J, Harris I, Tett SFB, Jones PD (2006) Uncertainty estimates in regional and global observed temperature changes: a new dataset from 1850. J Geophys Res 111:D12106 DOI 10.1029/2005JD006548

  11. Brook GA, Sheen SW, Rafter MA, Railsback LB, Lundberg J (1999) A high-resolution proxy record of rainfall and ENSO since AD 1550 from layering in stalagmites from Anjohibe Cave, Madagascar. Holocene 9:695–705

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cobb KM, Charles CD, Cheng H, Edwards RL (2003) El Niño-Southern Oscillation and tropical Pacific climate during the last millennium. Nature 424:271–276

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Collins M, Tett SFB, Cooper C (2001) The internal climate variability of HadCM3, a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments. Clim Dyn 17:61–81

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Collins M, Osborn TJ, Tett SFB, Briffa KR, Schweingruber FH (2002) A comparison of the variability of a climate model with a network of tree-ring densities. J Climate 15:1497–1515

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cox PM, Betts RA, Bunton CB, Essery RLH, Rowntree PR, Smith J (1999) The impact of new land surface physics on the GCM simulation of climate and climate sensitivity. Clim Dyn 15:183–203

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Crowley TJ (2000) Causes of climate change over the past 1000 years. Science 289:270–277

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Crowley TJ, Baum SK, Kim KY, Hegerl GC, Hyde WT (2003) Modeling ocean heat content changes during the last millennium. Geophys Res Lett 30. DOI 10.1029/2003GL017801

  18. Dunbar RB, Wellington GM, Colgan MW, Glynn PW (1996) Eastern Pacific sea surface temperature since 1600 AD: the 18O record of climate variability in Galapagos coral. Paleoceanography 9:291–315

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Efron B, Tibshirani RJ (1993) An Introduction to the Bootstrap, vol. 57 of Monographs on Statistics and Applied Probability. Chapman and Hall, New York

  20. Foley JA, Kutzbach JE, Coe MT, Levis S (1994) Feedbacks between climate and boreal forests during the holocene epoch. Nature 371:52–54

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Forest CE, Stone PH, Sokolov AP, Allen MR, Webster MD (2002) Quantifying uncertainties in climate system properties with the use of recent climate observations. Science 295:113–117

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Gedney N, Cox PM, Betts RA, Boucher O, Huntingford C, Stott P (2006) Detection of a direct carbon dioxide effect in continental river runoff records. Nature 439. DOI 10.1038/nature04504

  23. Goldewijk KK (2001) Estimating global land use change over the past 300 years: The HYDE database. Global Biogeochem Cycles 15:417–433

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Gonzalez-Rouco F, von Storch H, Zorita E (2003) Deep soil temperature as proxy for surface air-temperature in a coupled model simulation of the last thousand years. Geophys Res Lett 21. DOI 10.1029/2003GL018264

  25. Goosse H, Renssen H, Timmermann A, Bradley RS (2005) Internal and forced climate variability during the last millennium: a model-data comparison using ensemble simulations. Q Sci Rev 12–13:1345–1360

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Gordon C, Cooper C, Senior CA, Banks H, Gregory JM, Johns TC, Mitchell JFB, Wood RA (2000) The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments. Clim Dyn 16:147–168

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Gregory JM, Stott PA, Cresswell DJ, Rayner NA, Gordon C, Sexton DMH (2002a) Recent and future changes in Arctic sea ice simulated by the HadCM3 AOGCM. Geophys Res Lett 29. DOI 10.1029/2001GL014575

  28. Gregory JM, Stouffer RJ, Raper SCB, Stott PA, Rayner NA (2002b) An observationally based estimate of the climate sensitivity. J Clim 15:3117–3121

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Gregory JM, Ingram WJ, Palmer MA, Jones GS, Stott PA, Thorpe RB, Lowe JA, Johns TC, Williams KD (2004) A new method for diagnosing radiative forcing and climate sensitivity. Geophys Res Lett 31:L03205. DOI 10.1029/2003gl018747

    Google Scholar 

  30. Gregory JM, Lowe JA, Tett SFB (2006) Simulated global-mean sea-level changes over the last half-millennium. J Clim (In Press)

  31. Hansen J, Sato M, Reudy R (1997) Radiative forcing and climate response. J Geophys Res 102:6831–6864

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Hegerl GC, Crowley TJ, Baum SK, Kim KY, Hyde WT (2003) Detection of volcanic, solar and greenhouse gas signals in paleo-reconstructions of northern hemispheric temperature. Geophys Res Lett 30:1242. DOI 10.1029/2002GL016635

    Google Scholar 

  33. Hewitt CD, Mitchell JFB (1996) GCM simulations of the climate of 6 kyr BP: mean changes and interdecadal variability. J Clim 9:3505–3529

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Johns TC, Gregory JM, Ingram WJ, Johnson CE, Jones A, Lowe JA, Mitchell JFB, Roberts DL, Sexton DMH, Stevenson DS, Tett SFB, Woodage MJ (2003) Anthropogenic climate change for 1860 to 2100 simulated with the HadCM3 model under updated emissions scenarios. Clim Dyn 20:583–612. DOI 10.1007/s00382-002-0296-y

    Google Scholar 

  35. Jones PD, Hegerl GC (1998) Comparisons of two methods of removing anthropogenically related variability from the near-surface observational temperature field. J Geophys Res 103:13777–13786

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Jones PD, Osborn TJ, Briffa KR (1997) Estimating sampling errors in large-scale temperature averages. J Clim 10:2548–2568

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Jones P, Briffa K, Barnett TP, Tett SFB (1998) High-resolution palaeoclimatic records for the last millennium: interpretation, integration and comparison with general circulation model control run temperatures. Holocene 8:455–471

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Jones A, Roberts DL, Woodage MJ, Johnson CE (2001) Indirect sulphate aerosol forcing in a climate model with an interactive sulphur cycle. J Geophys Res 106:20293–20310

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Jones PD, Briffa KR, Osborn TJ (2003) Changes in the northern hemisphere annual cycle: Implications for paleoclimatology? J Geophys Res 108. DOI 10.1029/2003JD003695

  40. Jones GS, Gregory JM, Stott PA, Tett SFB, Thorpe RB (2005) An AOGCM simulation of the climate response to a volcanic super-eruption. Clim Dyn 25:725–738. DOI 10.1007/s00382-005-0066-8

    Google Scholar 

  41. Joshi M, Shine K, Ponater M, Stuber N, Sausen R, Li L (2003) A comparison of climate response to different radiative forcings in three general circulation models: towards an improved metric of climate change. Clim Dyn 20:843–854. DOI 10.1007/s00382-003-0305-9

    Google Scholar 

  42. Lean J, Beer J, Bradley R (1995) Reconstruction of solar irradiance since 1610: implications for climate change. Geophys Res Lett 22:3195–3198

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Levitus S, Antonov JI, Wang J, Delworth TL, Dixon KW, Broccoli AJ (2001) Anthropogenic warming of the Earth’s climate system. Science 292:267–270

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Levitus S, Antonov J, Boyer T (2005) Warming of the world ocean, 1955–2003. Geophys Res Lett 32. DOI 10.1029/2004GL021592

  45. Mann ME (2004) On smoothing potentially non-stationary climate time series. Geophys Res Lett 31. DOI 10.1029/2004GL019569

  46. Mann ME, Jones PD (2003) Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia. Geophys Res Lett. DOI 10.1029/2003GL017814

  47. Mann ME, Bradley RS, Hughes MK (1999) Northern hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations. Geophys Res Lett 26:759–762

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Mitchell JFB, Wilson CA, Cunnington WM (1987) On CO2 climate sensitivity and model dependence of results. Q J R Meteorol Soc 113:293–322

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Mitchell JFB, Manabe S, Meleshko V, Tokioka T (1990) Equilibrium climate change—and its implications for the future. In: Houghton JT, Jenkins GJ, Ephraums JJ (eds) Climate change: the IPCC scientific assessment, chap. 5. Cambridge University Press, London, pp 131–172

  50. Oki T, Nishimura T, Dirmeyer P (1999) Assessment of annual runoff from land surface models using total runoff integrating pathways (TRIP). J Meteorol Soc Jpn 77:235–255

    Google Scholar 

  51. Otterman J, Chou MD, Arking A (1984) Effects of nontropical forest cover on climate. J Clim Appl Meteorol 23:762–767

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Parker DE, Legg TP, Folland CK (1992) A new daily Central England temperature series. Int J Climatol 12:317–342

    Google Scholar 

  53. Pope VD, Gallani ML, Rowntree PR, Stratton RA (2000) The impact of new physical parametrizations in the Hadley Centre climate model—HadAM3. Clim Dyn 16:123–146

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Ramankutty N, Foley JA (1999) Estimating historical changes in global land cover: croplands from 1700 to 1992. Global Biogeochem Cycles 13:997–1027

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Randel WJ, Wu F (1999) A stratospheric ozone trends data set for global modelling studies. Geophys Res Lett 26:3089–3092

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Roberts DL, Jones A (2004) Climate sensitivity to black carbon aerosol from fossil fuel combustion. J Geophys Res 109. DOI 10.1029/2004jd004676

  57. Robock A, Mao J (1992) Winter warming from large volcanic eruptions. Geophys Res Lett 19:2405–2408

    Google Scholar 

  58. Sato M, Hansen JE, McCormick MP, Pollack JB (1993) Stratospheric aerosol optical depths (1850–1990). J Geophys Res 98:22987–22994

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Senior CA, Mitchell JFB (2000) The time dependence of climate sensitivity. Geophys Res Lett 27:2685–2688

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Sexton DMH, Grubb H, Shine KP, Folland CK (2003) Design and analysis of climate model experiments for the efficient estimation of anthropogenic signals. J Clim 16:1320–1336

    Google Scholar 

  61. Shindell DT, Schmifdt GA, Miller RL, Rind D (2001) Northern hemisphere winter climate response to greenhouse gas, ozone, solar and volcanic forcing. J Geophys Res 106:7193–7210

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Shindell DT, Schmidt GA, Mann ME, Faluvegi G (2004) Dynamic winter climate response to large tropical volcanic eruptions since 1600. J Geophys Res 109. DOI 10.1029/2003JD004151

  63. von Storch H, Zorita E, Jones JM, Dimitriev Y, González-Rouco F, Tett SFB (2004) Reconstructing past climate from noisy data. Science 306:679–682

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. von Storch H, Zorita E, Jones JM, Gonzalez-Rouco F, Tett SFB (2006) Response to comment on reconstructing past climate from noisy data. Science 312:529C

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Stott PA, Tett SFB (1998) Scale-dependent detection of climate change. J Clim 11:3282–3294

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Stott PA, Tett SFB, Jones GS, Allen MR, Mitchell JFB, Jenkins GJ (2000) External control of twentieth century temperature by natural and anthropogenic causes. Science 290:2133–2137

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Stott PA, Jones GS, Mitchell JFB (2003) Do models underestimate the solar contribution to recent climate change? J Clim 16:4079–4093

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Tett SFB, Jones GS, Stott PA, Hill DC, Mitchell JFB, Allen MR, Ingram WJ, Johns TC, Johnson CE, Jones A, Roberts DL, Sexton DMH, Woodage MJ (2002) Estimation of natural and anthropogenic contributions to twentieth century temperature change. J Geophys Res 107. DOI 10.1029/2000JD000028

  69. Thompson LG (1996) Climate changes for the last 2000 years inferred from ice core evidence in tropical ice cores. In: Jones PD, Bradley RS, Jouzel J (eds) Climate variations and forcing mechanisms of the last 2000 year. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg NewYork, pp 281–297

    Google Scholar 

  70. Thompson DWJ, Wallace JM, Hegerl GC (2000) Annular modes in the extratropical circulation. Part II: Trends. J Clim 13:1018–1036

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Twomey SA (1974) Pollution and the planetary albedo. Atmos Environ 8:1251–1256

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Vellinga M, Wood RA (2002) Global climatic impacts of a collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation. Clim Change 54:251–267

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Vellinga M, Wu P (2004) Low-latitude fresh water influence on centennial variability of the thermohaline circulation. J Clim 17:4498–4511

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Verschuren D, Laird KR, Cumming BF (2000) Rainfall and drought in equatorial east Africa during the past 1,100 years. Nature 403:410–414

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Wahl ER, Ritson DM, Ammann CM (2006) Comment on reconstructing past climate from noisy data. Science 26:529B

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Williams KD, Jones A, Roberts DL, Senior CA, Woodage MJ (2001) The response of the climate system to the indirect effects of anthropogenic sulfate aerosol. Clim Dyn 17:845–856

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Wilson MF, Henderson-Sellers A (1985) A global archive of land cover and soils data for use in general circulation climate models. J Climatol 5:119–143

    Google Scholar 

  78. Zorita E, Storch HV, Gonzalez-Rouco FJ, Cubasch U, Luterbacher J, Legutke S, Fischer-Bruns I, Schlese U (2004) Climate evolution in the last five centuries simulated by anatmosphere-ocean model: global temperatures, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Late Maunder Minimum. Z Meteorol 13:271–289

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

ST was funded by the Government Met. Research (GMR) contract and SO&P (EVK2-CT-2002-00160). Computer time for the two forced simulations was funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under the Climate Prediction Program Contract PECD 7/12/37 as were RB, JG, AJ, DR and MW. TJ was funded by GMR and EO was funded by the National Met. Program. SO&P funded TO. NOAA and U.S. DOE supported TC. Helpful comments were received from Chris Folland and three anonymous referees. ST writes “This paper was largely written during the illness and subsequent death of my wife, Claire. I would like to thank my family, friends, colleagues and co-authors for their support and help in this difficult time. Claire supported and loved me throughout the entirety of my career. I miss her greatly.”

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Simon F. B. Tett.

Appendix

Appendix

Results from both A ll 250 and N atural 500 need to be corrected for drift in C ontrol and an error in the land-surface properties in N atural 500. In this appendix we describe how these corrections are made.

When setting up N atural 500 values for some, but not all, land-surface parameters were set in error to C ontrol values rather than to pre-industrial values. These parameters are infiltration enhancement, leaf area, canopy height and, probably most important, roughness length. Other parameters (root depth, snow free and deep-snow albedo and canopy capacity) were set to their correct values. An experiment in which these factors were correctly set was carried out for 1491–1600. The impact of the incorrect surface properties were estimated by taking the difference between N atural 500 and this simulation for the 100-year period 1500–1599. There is a some impact on NH temperature and ice (Table 4) with little impact on precipitation and the southern hemisphere. Trends over the 100-year period are not significant for any variable considered suggesting that a mean-correction is adequate.

Table 4 Corrections to N atural 500 for a variety of climate variables

A more detailed examination of changes in surface roughness shows that this error is largest in the eastern USA, SE Asia and eastern Europe (Fig. 16a). These are all areas which lost most of their forest cover over the last 100–200 years. Errors in temperature are largest over these regions but are not restricted to these regions as shown by the widespread northern hemisphere land warming.

Fig. 16
figure16

Error in surface roughness and temperature. a Error in surface roughness. A contour interval of 0.1 m is used from −0.5 to 0.1 m with additional contours at  ± 0.05 m. b Diagnosed error in Annual-mean surface temperature. Contours at  ± 4,  ± 2,  ± 1,  ± 0.75,  ± 0.5,  ± 0.25 and  ± 0.1 K. Small “x”’s show where error is significant

Even though C ontrol is relatively stable (Collins et al. 2001) it still shows drift on multi-century time-scales. For example northern hemisphere growing season temperature declines by 0.3 K over 2,000 years while NH precipitation falls by 0.02 mm/day (Fig. 17). Through this paper we corrected for this drift by fitting a second-order polynomial to C ontroland removing the best-fit curve for the period of the simulation. When not showing anomaly values we added the mean value of the control drift after removing the best-fit. This correction increases warming in A ll 250 and reduces 50-year variability in C ontrol. All results presented in this paper have had this process applied to correct for drift.

Fig. 17
figure17

C ontrol Drift. a Northern hemisphere land growing season (April–September) temperature from C ontrol. Shown are 10-year (black) and 50-year (red) mean values as well as second-order polynomial fit (blue). Thin vertical lines show period from C ontrol corresponding to N atural 500 simulation. b As (a) but for NH annual-mean land precipitation

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Tett, S.F.B., Betts, R., Crowley, T.J. et al. The impact of natural and anthropogenic forcings on climate and hydrology since 1550. Clim Dyn 28, 3–34 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-006-0165-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
  • Climate Sensitivity
  • Southern Oscillation Index
  • South Pacific Convergence Zone
  • Anthropogenic Forcings