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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

Chapter 10 - Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: from Global to Regional


Executive Summary

Atmospheric Temperatures

More than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature (GMST) from 1951 to 2010 is very likely due to the observed anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. The consistency of observed and modeled changes across the climate system, including warming of the atmosphere and ocean, sea level rise, ocean acidification and changes in the water cycle, the cryosphere and climate extremes points to a large-scale warming resulting primarily from anthropogenic increases in GHG concentrations. Solar forcing is the only known natural forcing acting to warm the climate over this period but it has increased much less than GHG forcing, and the observed pattern of long-term tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling is not consistent with the expected response to solar irradiance variations. The Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) could be a confounding influence but studies that find a significant role for the AMO show that this does not project strongly onto 1951–2010 temperature trends. (10.3.1, Table 10.1}

It is extremely likely that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in GMST from 1951 to 2010. This assessment is supported by robust evidence from multiple studies using different methods. Observational uncertainty has been explored much more thoroughly than previously and the assessment now considers observations from the first decade of the 21st century and simulations from a new generation of climate models whose ability to simulate historical climate has improved in many respects relative to the previous generation of models considered in AR4.

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