Twentieth-Century Surface Air Temperature over China and the Globe Simulated by Coupled Climate Models

Tianjun Zhou; Rucong Yu
November 2006
Journal of Climate;Nov2006, Vol. 19 Issue 22, p5843
Academic Journal
This paper examines variations of the surface air temperature (SAT) over China and the globe in the twentieth century simulated by 19 coupled climate models driven by historical natural and anthropogenic forcings. Most models perform well in simulating both the global and the Northern Hemispheric mean SAT evolutions of the twentieth century. The inclusion of natural forcings improves the simulation, in particular for the first half of the century. The reproducibility of the SAT averaged over China is lower than that of the global and hemispheric averages, but it is still acceptable. The contribution of natural forcings to the SAT over China in the first half of the century is not as robust as that to the global and hemispheric averages. No model could successfully produce the reconstructed warming over China in the 1920s. The prescribed natural and anthropogenic forcings in the coupled climate models mainly produce the warming trends and the decadal- to interdecadal-scale SAT variations with poor performances at shorter time scales. The prominent warming trend in the last half of the century over China and its acceleration in recent decades are weakly simulated. There are discrepancies between the simulated and observed regional features of the SAT trend over China. Few models could produce the summertime cooling over the middle part of eastern China (27°–36°N), while two models acceptably produce the meridional gradients of the wintertime warming trends, with north China experiencing larger warming. Limitations of the current state-of-the-art coupled climate models in simulating spatial patterns of the twentieth-century SAT over China cast a shadow upon their capability toward projecting credible geographical distributions of future climate change through Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenario simulations.


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