Long-Term Warming and Short-Term Variation

Long-Term Warming and Short-Term Variation

Observations of global mean surface air temperature show that although there can be short periods with little or even no significant upward trend (red trend lines in shaded areas), global temperature continues to rise unabated over long-term climate timescales (black trend line). The recent period, 1998-2012, is another example of a short-term pause embedded in the underlying warming trend. The differences between short-term trends and the underlying (long-term) trend are often associated with modes of natural variability such as El Niño and La Niña that redistribute heat between the ocean and atmosphere. (Data from NOAA NCDC).

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Physical Climate, Observations