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Nat Commun. 2018 Apr 30;9(1):1724. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04040-y.

Increasing occurrence of cold and warm extremes during the recent global warming slowdown.

Johnson NC1,2,3,4, Xie SP5, Kosaka Y5,6, Li X5,7.

Author information

1
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program, Princeton University, Princeton, 08540, NJ, USA. nathaniel.johnson@noaa.gov.
2
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton University Forrestal Campus, 201 Forrestal Road, Princeton, NJ, 08540-6649, USA. nathaniel.johnson@noaa.gov.
3
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive #0206, La Jolla, CA, 92093-0206, USA. nathaniel.johnson@noaa.gov.
4
International Pacific Research Center, SOEST, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, 96822, Hawaii, USA. nathaniel.johnson@noaa.gov.
5
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive #0206, La Jolla, CA, 92093-0206, USA.
6
Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-8904, Japan.
7
Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences Chao Yang District, P.O. Box 9804, Beijing, 100029, China.

Abstract

The recent levelling of global mean temperatures after the late 1990s, the so-called global warming hiatus or slowdown, ignited a surge of scientific interest into natural global mean surface temperature variability, observed temperature biases, and climate communication, but many questions remain about how these findings relate to variations in more societally relevant temperature extremes. Here we show that both summertime warm and wintertime cold extreme occurrences increased over land during the so-called hiatus period, and that these increases occurred for distinct reasons. The increase in cold extremes is associated with an atmospheric circulation pattern resembling the warm Arctic-cold continents pattern, whereas the increase in warm extremes is tied to a pattern of sea surface temperatures resembling the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. These findings indicate that large-scale factors responsible for the most societally relevant temperature variations over continents are distinct from those of global mean surface temperature.

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