IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis Studies Based on Indices of Temperature Change and Temperature-Precipitation Relationships

Studies based on indices of temperature change support the robust detection of human influence on continental-scale land areas. Observed trends in indices of North American continental-scale temperature change, (including the regional mean, the mean land-ocean temperature contrast and the annual cycle) were found by Karoly et al. (2003) to be generally consistent with simulated trends under historical forcing from greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols during the second half of the 20th century. In contrast, they find only a small likelihood of agreement with trends driven by natural forcing only during this period. An analysis of changes in Australian mean, daily maximum and daily minimum temperatures and diurnal temperature range using six coupled climate models showed that it is likely that there has been a significant contribution to observed warming in Australia from increasing greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols (Karoly and Braganza, 2005a). An anomalous warming has been found over all Australia (Nicholls, 2003) and in New South Wales (Nicholls et al., 2005) since the early 1970s, associated with a changed relationship between annual mean maximum temperature and rainfall. Whereas interannual rainfall and temperature variations in this region are strongly inversely correlated, in recent decades temperatures have tended to be higher for a given rainfall than in previous decades. By removing the rainfall-related component of Australian temperature variations, thereby enhancing the signal-to-noise ratio, Karoly and Braganza (2005b) detect an anthropogenic warming signal in south-eastern Australia, although their results are affected by some uncertainty associated with their removal of rainfall-related temperature variability. A similar technique applied to the Sudan and Sahel region improved the agreement between model simulations and observations of temperature change over the last 60 years in this region (Douville, 2006) and could improve the detectability of regional temperature signals over other regions where precipitation is likely to affect the surface energy budget (Trenberth and Shea, 2005).

9.4.3 Surface Temperature Extremes Observed Changes

Observed changes in temperature extremes are consistent with the observed warming of the climate (Alexander et al., 2006) and are summarised in Section There has been a widespread reduction in the number of frost days in mid-latitude regions in recent decades, an increase in the number of warm extremes, particularly warm nights, and a reduction in the number of cold extremes, particularly cold nights. A number of regional studies all show patterns of changes in extremes consistent with a general warming, although the observed changes in the tails of the temperature distributions are generally not consistent with a simple shift of the entire distribution alone.