Quantifying the Occurrence of Record Hot Years Through Normalized Warming Trends

Xubin Zeng, J. E.Jack Reeves Eyre, Ross D. Dixon, Jorge Arevalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surface air temperature trends and extreme events are of global concern and they are related. Here, we show that the occurrence of record hot years over different latitudes from 1960 to 2019 are more strongly correlated with the observational annual mean temperature trends normalized by internal variability. Compared with the raw trends showing Arctic amplification, the normalized trends show a tropical amplification over land. Two hot spots with more frequent occurrence of record hot years are identified: northern hemisphere ocean (vs. land) and southern hemisphere tropical land (vs. mid- and high-latitude lands). Ensemble mean results from 32 Earth system models agree with observations better than individual models, but they do not reproduce observed large differences in correlations across latitudes between normalized trends and record-breaking events over land versus ocean. Our results enable the quantification of record hot year occurrence through normalized warming trends and provide new metrics for model evaluation and improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL091626
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 28 2021


  • Arctic amplification
  • Earth system models
  • extreme heat
  • normalized warming trends
  • tropical amplification
  • warming trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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