Using 100 years of global temperature anomaly data, we have performed a singular value decomposition of temperature variations in narrow frequency bands to isolate coherent spatio-temporal "modes" of global climate variability. Statistical significance is determined from confidence limits obtained by Monte Carlo simulations. Secular variance is dominated by a globally coherent trend, with nearly all grid points warming in phase at varying amplitude. A smaller, but significant, share of the secular variance corresponds to a pattern dominated by warming and subsequent cooling in the high latitude North Atlantic with a roughly centennial timescale. Spatial patterns associated with significant peaks in variance within a broad period range from 2.8 to 5.7 years exhibit characteristic El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) patterns. A recent transition to a regime of higher ENSO frequency is suggested by our analysis. An interdecadal mode in the 15-to-18 years period range appears to represent long-term ENSO variability. This mode has a sizeable projection onto global-average temperature, and accounts for much of the anomalous global warmth of the 1980s. A quasi-biennial mode centered near 2.2-years period and a mode centered at 7-to-8 years period both exhibit predominantly a North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) temperature pattern. A potentially significant "decadal" mode centered on 11-to-12 years period also exhibits an NAO temperature pattern and may be modulated by the century-scale North Atlantic variability.
Journal of Geophysical Research
- Pub Date:
- December 1994
- Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Biosphere/atmosphere interactions;
- Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Middle atmosphere-composition and chemistry;
- Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics: Climatology