Compo and Sardeshmukh: Oceans a main driver of climate variability – it’s the heat AND the humidity.

Compo and Sardeshmukh: Oceans a main driver of climate variability – it’s the heat AND the humidity.

23 07 2008

Illustration only: not part of the paper

This paper has been out for a few days, and several people have alerted me to it. This new paper by Compo,G.P., and P.D. Sardeshmukh, 2008: Oceanic influences on recent continental warming. in the journal Climate Dynamics, is now in press. See the PDF here

This paper makes some significant claims regarding what is driving the observed climate changes. The emphasis is on the ocean as the main driving component, and the authors recognize that “a combination of natural and anthropogenic influences” may be at work. While they point to the oceans as a significant driver, they don’t offer much to explain what is driving the oceanic change.

Even so, this is a significant work, and I urge my visitors to read it, because it shows that GHG forcing is not the only occupant of the drivers seat. It also clearly illustrates the need to examine such cyclic ocean influences as the PDO and AMO more closely, and to consider them in projections of temperature.


“Evidence is presented that the recent worldwide land warming has occurred largely in response to a worldwide warming of the oceans rather than as a direct response to increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) over land. Atmospheric model simulations of the last half-century with prescribed observed ocean temperature changes, but without prescribed GHG changes, account for most of the land warming. The oceanic influence has occurred through hydrodynamic-radiative teleconnections, primarily by moistening and warming the air over land and increasing the downward longwave radiation at the surface. The oceans may themselves have warmed from a combination of natural and anthropogenic influences.”