Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

Aerosol-forced multidecadal variations across all ocean basins in models and observations since 1920

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  17 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 29, eabb0425
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb0425


Earth’s climate fluctuates considerably on decadal-multidecadal time scales, often causing large damages to our society and environment. These fluctuations usually result from internal dynamics, and many studies have linked them to internal climate modes in the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Here, we show that variations in volcanic and anthropogenic aerosols have caused in-phase, multidecadal SST variations since 1920 across all ocean basins. These forced variations resemble the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) in time. Unlike the North Atlantic, where indirect and direct aerosol effects on surface solar radiation drive the multidecadal SST variations, over the tropical central and western Pacific atmospheric circulation response to aerosol forcing plays an important role, whereas aerosol-induced radiation change is small. Our new finding implies that AMO-like climate variations in Eurasia, North America, and other regions may be partly caused by the aerosol forcing, rather than being originated from the North Atlantic SST variations as previously thought.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances