skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Quantifying stochastic uncertainty in detection time of human-caused climate signals

Abstract

Large initial condition ensembles of a climate model simulation provide many different realizations of internal variability noise superimposed on an externally forced signal. They have been used to estimate signal emergence time at individual grid points, but are rarely employed to identify global fingerprints of human influence. Here we analyze 50- and 40-member ensembles performed with 2 climate models; each was run with combined human and natural forcings. We apply a pattern-based method to determine signal detection time t d in individual ensemble members. Distributions of t d are characterized by the median t d { m } and range t d { r } , computed for tropospheric and stratospheric temperatures over 1979 to 2018. Lower stratospheric cooling—primarily caused by ozone depletion—yields t d { m } values between 1994 and 1996, depending on model ensemble, domain (global or hemispheric), and type of noise data. For greenhouse-gas–driven tropospheric warming, larger noise and slower recovery from the 1991 Pinatubo eruption lead to later signal detection (between 1997 and 2003). The stochastic uncertainty t d { r } is greater for tropospheric warming (8 to 15 y) than for stratospheric cooling (1 to 3 y). In the ensemble generated by a high climate sensitivity model with low anthropogenic aerosol forcing, simulated tropospheric warming is larger than observed; detection times for tropospheric warming signals in satellite data are within t d { r } ranges in 60% of all cases. The corresponding number is 88% for the second ensemble, which was produced by a model with even higher climate sensitivity but with large aerosol-induced cooling. Whether the latter result is physically plausible will require concerted efforts to reduce significant uncertainties in aerosol forcing.

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ; ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo; ; ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1562311
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1625037; OSTI ID: 1635090
Report Number(s):
LLNL-JRNL-770081
Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424; /pnas/116/40/19821.atom
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC52-07NA27344; SCW1295
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Journal Volume: 116 Journal Issue: 40; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; large ensembles; climate change; detection and attribution; Environmental sciences

Citation Formats

Santer, Benjamin D., Fyfe, John C., Solomon, Susan, Painter, Jeffrey F., Bonfils, Céline, Pallotta, Giuliana, and Zelinka, Mark D. Quantifying stochastic uncertainty in detection time of human-caused climate signals. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1904586116.
Santer, Benjamin D., Fyfe, John C., Solomon, Susan, Painter, Jeffrey F., Bonfils, Céline, Pallotta, Giuliana, & Zelinka, Mark D. Quantifying stochastic uncertainty in detection time of human-caused climate signals. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1904586116.
Santer, Benjamin D., Fyfe, John C., Solomon, Susan, Painter, Jeffrey F., Bonfils, Céline, Pallotta, Giuliana, and Zelinka, Mark D. Mon . "Quantifying stochastic uncertainty in detection time of human-caused climate signals". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1904586116.
@article{osti_1562311,
title = {Quantifying stochastic uncertainty in detection time of human-caused climate signals},
author = {Santer, Benjamin D. and Fyfe, John C. and Solomon, Susan and Painter, Jeffrey F. and Bonfils, Céline and Pallotta, Giuliana and Zelinka, Mark D.},
abstractNote = {Large initial condition ensembles of a climate model simulation provide many different realizations of internal variability noise superimposed on an externally forced signal. They have been used to estimate signal emergence time at individual grid points, but are rarely employed to identify global fingerprints of human influence. Here we analyze 50- and 40-member ensembles performed with 2 climate models; each was run with combined human and natural forcings. We apply a pattern-based method to determine signal detection time t d in individual ensemble members. Distributions of t d are characterized by the median t d { m } and range t d { r } , computed for tropospheric and stratospheric temperatures over 1979 to 2018. Lower stratospheric cooling—primarily caused by ozone depletion—yields t d { m } values between 1994 and 1996, depending on model ensemble, domain (global or hemispheric), and type of noise data. For greenhouse-gas–driven tropospheric warming, larger noise and slower recovery from the 1991 Pinatubo eruption lead to later signal detection (between 1997 and 2003). The stochastic uncertainty t d { r } is greater for tropospheric warming (8 to 15 y) than for stratospheric cooling (1 to 3 y). In the ensemble generated by a high climate sensitivity model with low anthropogenic aerosol forcing, simulated tropospheric warming is larger than observed; detection times for tropospheric warming signals in satellite data are within t d { r } ranges in 60% of all cases. The corresponding number is 88% for the second ensemble, which was produced by a model with even higher climate sensitivity but with large aerosol-induced cooling. Whether the latter result is physically plausible will require concerted efforts to reduce significant uncertainties in aerosol forcing.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1904586116},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 40,
volume = 116,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {9}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1904586116

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 3 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300
journal, August 2011


Emergence of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer
journal, June 2016


Checking for model consistency in optimal fingerprinting
journal, June 1999


The DOE E3SM Coupled Model Version 1: Overview and Evaluation at Standard Resolution
journal, July 2019

  • Golaz, Jean‐Christophe; Caldwell, Peter M.; Van Roekel, Luke P.
  • Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, Vol. 11, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018MS001603

UAH Version 6 global satellite temperature products: Methodology and results
journal, February 2017

  • Spencer, Roy W.; Christy, John R.; Braswell, William D.
  • Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, Vol. 53, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1007/s13143-017-0010-y

Influence of internal variability on Arctic sea-ice trends
journal, January 2015

  • Swart, Neil C.; Fyfe, John C.; Hawkins, Ed
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 5, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2483

A Satellite-Derived Lower-Tropospheric Atmospheric Temperature Dataset Using an Optimized Adjustment for Diurnal Effects
journal, October 2017


Anthropogenic and Natural Influences in the Evolution of Lower Stratospheric Cooling
journal, February 2006


Projecting North American Climate over the Next 50 Years: Uncertainty due to Internal Variability
journal, March 2014


An “Observational Large Ensemble” to Compare Observed and Modeled Temperature Trend Uncertainty due to Internal Variability
journal, October 2017

  • McKinnon, Karen A.; Poppick, Andrew; Dunn-Sigouin, Etienne
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 30, Issue 19
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0905.1

Identifying external influences on global precipitation
journal, November 2013

  • Marvel, K.; Bonfils, C.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 110, Issue 48
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314382110

The Roles of External Forcings and Internal Variabilities in the Northern Hemisphere Atmospheric Circulation Change from the 1960s to the 1990s
journal, December 2010

  • King, Martin P.; Kucharski, Fred; Molteni, Franco
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 23, Issue 23
  • DOI: 10.1175/2010JCLI3239.1

Taking climate model evaluation to the next level
journal, January 2019


Large near-term projected snowpack loss over the western United States
journal, April 2017

  • Fyfe, John C.; Derksen, Chris; Mudryk, Lawrence
  • Nature Communications, Vol. 8, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14996

An Overview of CMIP5 and the Experiment Design
journal, April 2012

  • Taylor, Karl E.; Stouffer, Ronald J.; Meehl, Gerald A.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 93, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00094.1

Has there been a hiatus?
journal, August 2015


Models versus radiosondes in the free atmosphere: A new detection and attribution analysis of temperature: MODELS VERSUS RADIOSONDES IN FREE ATMOSPHERE
journal, March 2013

  • Lott, F. C.; Stott, P. A.; Mitchell, D. M.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 118, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50255

Constraining the Ratio of Global Warming to Cumulative CO 2 Emissions Using CMIP5 Simulations
journal, September 2013


Forcing, feedbacks and climate sensitivity in CMIP5 coupled atmosphere-ocean climate models: CLIMATE SENSITIVITY IN CMIP5 MODELS
journal, May 2012

  • Andrews, Timothy; Gregory, Jonathan M.; Webb, Mark J.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 39, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1029/2012GL051607

The Radiative Forcing Model Intercomparison Project (RFMIP): experimental protocol for CMIP6
journal, January 2016

  • Pincus, Robert; Forster, Piers M.; Stevens, Bjorn
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 9, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-9-3447-2016

Prospects for narrowing bounds on Earth's equilibrium climate sensitivity: EARTH'S EQUILIBRIUM CLIMATE SENSITIVITY
journal, November 2016

  • Stevens, Bjorn; Sherwood, Steven C.; Bony, Sandrine
  • Earth's Future, Vol. 4, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1002/2016EF000376

Progressing emergent constraints on future climate change
journal, March 2019


Contribution of stratospheric cooling to satellite-inferred tropospheric temperature trends
journal, May 2004

  • Fu, Qiang; Johanson, Celeste M.; Warren, Stephen G.
  • Nature, Vol. 429, Issue 6987
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature02524

Climate model simulations of the observed early-2000s hiatus of global warming
journal, September 2014

  • Meehl, Gerald A.; Teng, Haiyan; Arblaster, Julie M.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 4, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2357

Recent Southern Ocean warming and freshening driven by greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion
journal, September 2018


Emergence of multiple ocean ecosystem drivers in a large ensemble suite with an Earth system model
journal, January 2015


Effects of volcanism on tropical variability: EFFECTS OF VOLCANISM
journal, July 2015

  • Maher, Nicola; McGregor, Shayne; England, Matthew H.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 42, Issue 14
  • DOI: 10.1002/2015GL064751

Contributions of External Forcings to Southern Annular Mode Trends
journal, June 2006

  • Arblaster, Julie M.; Meehl, Gerald A.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 19, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3774.1

Signal-to-noise analysis of time-dependent greenhouse warming experiments: Part 1: pattern analysis
journal, March 1994

  • Santer, Benjamin D.; Brüggemann, Wolfgang; Cubasch, Ulrich
  • Climate Dynamics, Vol. 9, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1007/BF00204743

Total volcanic stratospheric aerosol optical depths and implications for global climate change: Uncertainty in volcanic climate forcing
journal, November 2014

  • Ridley, D. A.; Solomon, S.; Barnes, J. E.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 41, Issue 22
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014GL061541

The Community Earth System Model (CESM) Large Ensemble Project: A Community Resource for Studying Climate Change in the Presence of Internal Climate Variability
journal, August 2015

  • Kay, J. E.; Deser, C.; Phillips, A.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 96, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00255.1

The Persistently Variable "Background" Stratospheric Aerosol Layer and Global Climate Change
journal, July 2011


Removing Diurnal Cycle Contamination in Satellite-Derived Tropospheric Temperatures: Understanding Tropical Tropospheric Trend Discrepancies
journal, March 2015


The Detection and Attribution Model Intercomparison Project (DAMIP v1.0) contribution to CMIP6
journal, January 2016

  • Gillett, Nathan P.; Shiogama, Hideo; Funke, Bernd
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 9, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-9-3685-2016

Quantifying the Lead Time Required for a Linear Trend to Emerge from Natural Climate Variability
journal, December 2017

  • Li, Jingyuan; Thompson, David W. J.; Barnes, Elizabeth A.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 30, Issue 24
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0280.1

Attribution of Extreme Events in Arctic Sea Ice Extent
journal, January 2017

  • Kirchmeier-Young, Megan C.; Zwiers, Francis W.; Gillett, Nathan P.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 30, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0412.1

New generation of U.S. satellite microwave sounder achieves high radiometric stability performance for reliable climate change detection
journal, October 2018

  • Zou, Cheng-Zhi; Goldberg, Mitchell D.; Hao, Xianjun
  • Science Advances, Vol. 4, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau0049

Uncertainties in the evolution of stratospheric ozone and implications for recent temperature changes in the tropical lower stratosphere: STRATOSPHERIC OZONE AND TEMPERATURE
journal, September 2012

  • Solomon, Susan; Young, Paul J.; Hassler, Birgit
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 39, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.1029/2012GL052723

Missing iris effect as a possible cause of muted hydrological change and high climate sensitivity in models
journal, April 2015

  • Mauritsen, Thorsten; Stevens, Bjorn
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 8, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2414

Time of emergence of trends in ocean biogeochemistry
journal, January 2014


Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown
journal, February 2016

  • Fyfe, John C.; Meehl, Gerald A.; England, Matthew H.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2938

Detection of human influence on sea-level pressure
journal, March 2003

  • Gillett, Nathan P.; Zwiers, Francis W.; Weaver, Andrew J.
  • Nature, Vol. 422, Issue 6929
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature01487

Human influence on the seasonal cycle of tropospheric temperature
journal, July 2018

  • Santer, Benjamin D.; Po-Chedley, Stephen; Zelinka, Mark D.
  • Science, Vol. 361, Issue 6399
  • DOI: 10.1126/science.aas8806

External Control of 20th Century Temperature by Natural and Anthropogenic Forcings
journal, December 2000