Changes in Earth's energy budget during and after the "pause" in global warming: An observational perspective

TitleChanges in Earth's energy budget during and after the "pause" in global warming: An observational perspective
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsLoeb N.G, Thorsen T.J, Norris J.R, Wang HL, Su W.Y
Date Published2018/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2225-1154
Accession NumberWOS:000448396100009
Keywordscirculation; Clouds; energy budget; Global warming hiatus; hiatus; imbalance; Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences; pacific; products; radiation; sea-surface temperature; united-states; upper-ocean; variability

This study examines changes in Earth's energy budget during and after the global warming pause (or hiatus) using observations from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System. We find a marked 0.83 +/- 0.41 Wm(-2) reduction in global mean reflected shortwave (SW) top-of-atmosphere (TOA) flux during the three years following the hiatus that results in an increase in net energy into the climate system. A partial radiative perturbation analysis reveals that decreases in low cloud cover are the primary driver of the decrease in SW TOA flux. The regional distribution of the SW TOA flux changes associated with the decreases in low cloud cover closely matches that of sea-surface temperature warming, which shows a pattern typical of the positive phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Large reductions in clear-sky SW TOA flux are also found over much of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in the northern hemisphere. These are associated with a reduction in aerosol optical depth consistent with stricter pollution controls in China and North America. A simple energy budget framework is used to show that TOA radiation (particularly in the SW) likely played a dominant role in driving the marked increase in temperature tendency during the post-hiatus period.

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