Detecting and attributing external influences on the climate system: A review of recent advances

Tim Barnett, Francis Zwiers, Gabriele Hegerl, Myles Allen, Tom Crowley, Nathan Gillett, Klaus Hasselmann, Phil Jones, Ben Santer, Reiner Schnur, Peter Stott, Karl Taylor, Simon Tett

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This paper reviews recent research that assesses evidence for the detection of anthropogenic and natural external influences on the climate. Externally driven climate change has been detected by a number of investigators in independent data covering many parts of the climate system, including surface temperature on global and large regional scales, ocean heat content, atmospheric circulation, and variables of the free atmosphere, such as atmospheric temperature and tropopause height. The influence of external forcing is also clearly discernible in reconstructions of hemispheric-scale temperature of the last millennium. These observed climate changes are very unlikely to be due only to natural internal climate variability, and they are consistent with the responses to anthropogenic and natural external forcing of the climate system that are simulated with climate models. The evidence indicates that natural drivers such as solar variability and volcanic activity are at most partially responsible for the large-scale temperature changes observed over the past century, and that a large fraction of the warming over the last 50 yr can be attributed to greenhouse gas increases. Thus, the recent research supports and strengthens the IPCC Third Assessment Report conclusion that "most of the global warming over the past 50 years is likely due to the increase in greenhouse gases."
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1291-1314
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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