A 0.24°C jump of record warm global mean surface temperature (GMST) over the past three consecutive record-breaking years (2014–2016) was highly unusual and largely a consequence of an El Niño that released unusually large amounts of ocean heat from the subsurface layer of the northwestern tropical Pacific. This heat had built up since the 1990s mainly due to greenhouse-gas (GHG) forcing and possible remote oceanic effects. Model simulations and projections suggest that the fundamental cause, and robust predictor of large record-breaking events of GMST in the 21st century, is GHG forcing rather than internal climate variability alone. Such events will increase in frequency, magnitude, and duration, as well as impact, in the future unless GHG forcing is reduced.
- El Niño
- model simulation and projection
- ocean heat release
- record warm global temperature
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)