IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis Spatial Trend Patterns

Figure 3.9 illustrates the spatial patterns of annual surface temperature changes for 1901 to 2005 and 1979 to 2005, and Figure 3.10 shows seasonal trends for 1979 to 2005. All maps clearly indicate that differences in trends between locations can be large, particularly for shorter time periods. For the century-long period, warming is statistically significant over most of the world’s surface with the exception of an area south of Greenland and three smaller regions over the southeastern USA and parts of Bolivia and the Congo basin. The lack of significant warming at about 20% of the locations (Karoly and Wu, 2005), and the enhanced warming in other places, is likely to be a result of changes in atmospheric circulation (see Section 3.6). Warming is strongest over the continental interiors of Asia and northwestern North America and over some mid-latitude ocean regions of the SH as well as southeastern Brazil. In the recent period, some regions have warmed substantially while a few have cooled slightly on an annual basis (Figure 3.9). Southwest China has cooled since the mid-20th century (Ren et al., 2005), but most of the cooling locations since 1979 have been oceanic and in the SH, possibly through changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation related to the PDO and SAM (see discussion in Section 3.6.5). Warming dominates most of the seasonal maps for the period 1979 onwards, but weak cooling has affected a few regions, especially the mid-latitudes of the SH oceans, but also over eastern Canada in spring, possibly in relation to the strengthening NAO (see Section 3.6.4, Figure 3.30). Warming in this period was strongest over western North America, northern Europe and China in winter, Europe and northern and eastern Asia in spring, Europe and North Africa in summer and northern North America, Greenland and eastern Asia in autumn (Figure 3.10).


Figure 3.9. Linear trend of annual temperatures for 1901 to 2005 (left; °C per century) and 1979 to 2005 (right; °C per decade). Areas in grey have insufficient data to produce reliable trends. The minimum number of years needed to calculate a trend value is 66 years for 1901 to 2005 and 18 years for 1979 to 2005. An annual value is available if there are 10 valid monthly temperature anomaly values. The data set used was produced by NCDC from Smith and Reynolds (2005). Trends significant at the 5% level are indicated by white + marks.


Figure 3.10. Linear trend of seasonal MAM, JJA, SON and DJF temperature for 1979 to 2005 (°C per decade). Areas in grey have insufficient data to produce reliable trends. The minimum number of years required to calculate a trend value is 18. A seasonal value is available if there are two valid monthly temperature anomaly values. The dataset used was produced by NCDC from Smith and Reynolds (2005). Trends significant at the 5% level are indicated by white + marks.

No single location follows the global average, and the only way to monitor the globe with any confidence is to include observations from as many diverse places as possible. The importance of regions without adequate records is determined from complete model reanalysis fields (Simmons et al., 2004). The importance of the missing areas for hemispheric and global averages is incorporated into the errors bars in Figure 3.6 (see Brohan et al., 2006). Error bars are generally larger in the more data-sparse SH than in the NH; they are larger before the 1950s and largest of all in the 19th century.

Figure 3.11 shows annual trends in DTR from 1979 to 2004. The decline in DTR since 1950 reported in the TAR has now ceased, as confirmed by Figure 3.2. Since 1979, daily minimum temperature increased in most areas except western Australia and southern Argentina, and parts of the western Pacific Ocean; and daily maximum temperature also increased in most regions except northern Peru, northern Argentina, northwestern Australia, and parts of the North Pacific Ocean (Vose et al., 2005a). The changes reported here appear inconsistent with Dai et al. (2006) who reported decreasing DTR in the USA, but this arises partly because Dai et al. (2006) included the high DTR years 1976 to 1978. Furthermore, Figure 3.11 is supported by many other recent regional-scale analyses.

Changes in cloud cover and precipitation explained up to 80% of the variance in historical DTR series for the USA, Australia, mid-latitude Canada and the former Soviet Union during the 20th century (Dai et al., 1999). Cloud cover accounted for nearly half of the change in the DTR in Fennoscandia during the 20th century (Tuomenvirta et al., 2000). Variations in atmospheric circulation also affect DTR. Changes in the frequency of certain synoptic weather types resulted in a decline in DTR during the cold half-year in the Arctic (Przybylak, 2000). A positive phase of the NAM (see Section 3.6.4) is associated with increased DTR in the northeastern USA and Canada (Wettstein and Mearns, 2002). Variations in sea level pressure patterns and associated changes in cloud cover partially accounted for increasing trends in cold-season DTR in the northwestern USA and decreasing trends in the south-central USA (Durre and Wallace, 2001). The relationship between DTR and anthropogenic forcings is complex, as these forcings can affect atmospheric circulation, as well as clouds through both greenhouses gases and aerosols.


Figure 3.11. Linear trend in annual mean DTR for 1979 to 2004 (°C per decade). Grey regions indicate incomplete or missing data (after Vose et al., 2005a).