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Simulated and Observed Variability



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Simulated and observed variability in ocean temperature and heat content K M AchutaRao M Ishii B D Santer P J Gleckler K E Taylor T P Barnett D W Pierce R J Stouffer and T M L Wigley Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Livermore CA 94550 Frontier Research Center for Global Change Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology Yokohama 236 0001 Japan Climate Research Division Scripps Institution of Oceanography La Jolla CA 92037 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Princeton NJ 08542 and National Center for Atmospheric Research Boulder CO 80307 Edited by Carl Wunsch Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA and approved May 16 2007 received for review December 20 2006 Observations show both a pronounced increase in ocean heat content OHC over the second half of the 20th century and substantial OHC variability on interannual to decadal time scales Although climate models are able to simulate overall changes in OHC they are generally thought to underestimate the amplitude of OHC variability Using simulations of 20th century climate performed with 13 numerical models we demonstrate that the apparent discrepancy between modeled and observed variability is largely explained by accounting for changes in observational coverage and instrumentation and by including the effects of volcanic eruptions Our work does not support the recent claim that the 0 to 700 m layer of the global ocean experienced a substantial OHC decrease over the 2003 to 2005 time period We show that the 2003 2005 cooling is largely an artifact of a systematic change in the observing system with the deployment of Argo floats reducing a warm bias in the original observing system climate models observations ocean heat content O bservations suggest that the world s oceans were responsible for most of the heat content increase in the earth s climate system between 1955 and 1998 1 This



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