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TREND ANALYSIS: Temperature trends

Item #d98mar17

"Recent Increase in the Length of the Melt Season of Perennial Arctic Sea Ice," D.M. Smith (U.K. Meteor. Off., London Rd., Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 2SZ, UK; e-mail:,Geophys. Res. Lett., 25(5), 655-658, Mar. 1, 1998.

Climate models predict warming in the Arctic due to greenhouse gases, and in the absence of direct measurements, warming over the Arctic sea ice might be inferred from a lengthening of the summer melt season. This analysis of satellite-based passive microwave data from 1979 to 1996 reveals an 8% per decade increase in the number of melt days per summer.

Item #d98mar18

"Biological and Physical Signs of Climate Change: Focus on Mosquito-borne Diseases," P.R. Epstein (Ct. for Health & Global Environ., Harvard Med. Sch., 260 Longwood Ave., Boston MA 02115; e-mail:, H.F. Diaz et al.,Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79(3), 409-417, Mar. 1998.

The authors, mostly earth or life scientists, review biological (plant and insect) data, glacial findings, and temperature records taken from mountainous regions. At high elevations, the overall trends regarding glaciers, plants, insect ranges, and shifting isotherms show remarkable internal consistency, and there is consistency between model projections and the observed changes. Chemical and physical changes in the atmosphere—compounded by large-scale land use and land-cover changes—have begun to affect biological systems. Discusses implications for public health as well as for developing an interdisciplinary approach to the detection of climate change.

Item #d98mar19

"Geothermal Evidence for Deforestation Induced Warming: Implications for the Climatic Impact of Land Development," T.J. Lewis (Pacific Geosci. Ctr., 9860 W. Saanich Rd., Sidney BC V8L 4B2, Can.; e-mail:, K. Wang,Geophys. Res. Lett., 25(4), 535-538, Feb. 15, 1998.

Analyses of temperatures from boreholes in previously forested areas in western Canada disclose sudden increases of one to two degrees in ground surface temperature at the times of deforestation at each site. A warming of the ground surface over a large area of Central Canada, synchronous with the deforestation of southern Ontario and neighboring regions in the nineteenth century, may be an example of climate change linked to the widespread creation of agricultural lands.

Item #d98mar20

"Gulf of Alaska Atmosphere-Ocean Variability over Recent Centuries Inferred from Coastal Tree-Ring Records," G.C. Wiles (Dept. Geol., Macalester College, St. Paul MN 55105), R.D.D. D'Arrigo, G.C. Jacoby,Clim. Change, 38(3), 289-306, Mar. 1998.

A 227-year record shows generally increased growth over the past century, coinciding with warmer spring temperatures in south coastal Alaska. The recent warming exceeds that of prior centuries, extending back to A.D. 1600.

Item #d98mar21

"Urban Bias in Temperature Time Series — A Case Study for the City of Vienna, Austria," R. Böhm (Central Inst. for Meteor. & Geodynamics, Hohe Warte 38, A-1190 Vienna, Austria),Clim. Change, 38(1), 113-128, Jan. 1998.

Results illustrate two features of general interest. First, a city with constant population still shows a temperature trend due to changes in urban morphology and energy consumption. Second, the urban temperature trend effect varies in different parts of the city, so a typical two-station approach (airport-urban) may be misleading.

Item #d98mar22

"On the Urban Heat Island Effect Dependence on Temperature Trends," I. Camilloni (Dept. Atmos. Sci., Univ. Buenos Aires, Ciudad Univ., Pabellón II

Item #d98mar23

piso, (1248) Buenos Aires, Argentina), V. Barros, Clim. Change, 37(4), 665-681, Dec. 1997.

For most U.S., Argentine and Australian cities, the yearly mean urban-to-rural temperature difference is negatively correlated with rural temperature. This means that regional data sets including urban records may have a bias associated with temperature trends, as well as a bias due to urban growth. For the U.S. during 1901-1984, the two types of bias could be of the same order but opposite sign.

Item #d98mar24

"An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Temperature Database," T.C. Peterson (Global Clim. Lab., NCDC, 151 Patton Ave., Rm. 120, Asheville NC 28801; e-mail:, R.S. Vose,Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 78(12), 2837-2849, Dec. 1997.

Describes in detail the ground-breaking enhancements to this 7000-station data set released in May 1997.

Item #d98mar25

"Effects of Land Use on the Climate of the United States," G.B. Bonan (NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307),Clim. Change, 37(3), 449-486, Nov. 1997.

Simulations with a land surface process model coupled to an atmosphere general circulation model show that the climate of the U.S. with modern vegetation is significantly different from that with natural vegetation. Important climate signals include a 1° C cooling over the east and 1° C warming over the west in spring; summer cooling of 2° C in the central region, and near-surface moistening in spring and summer. The climate change caused by land use practices is comparable to other anthropogenic climate forcings.

Item #d98mar26

"Hemispheric Asymmetry of Surface Temperature Anomalies," A.H. Gordon (Sch. Earth Sci., Flinders Univ., GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, Australia; e-mail:, J.A.T. Bye,Geophys. Res. Lett., 24(22), 2821-2823, Nov. 15, 1997.

Evidence has appeared lately in the literature supporting both sides of the theory that sulfate aerosols have suppressed greenhouse warming more in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern Hemisphere. This study, based on data sets of mean surface temperature over land and sea for the past 140 years, shows no evidence of any such difference.

Item #d98mar27

"Arctic Environmental Change of the Last Four Centuries," J. Overpeck (Paleoclim. Prog., NGDC/NOAA, 325 Broadway, Boulder CO 80303; e-mail:, K. Hughen et al.,Science, 278(5341), 1251-1256, Nov. 14, 1997.

A compilation of paleoclimatic records from lake sediments, trees, glaciers, and marine sediments shows that from 1840 to the mid-20th century, the Arctic warmed to the highest temperatures in four centuries. This warming ended the Little Ice Age in the Arctic, and has caused retreats of glaciers, melting of permafrost and sea ice, and alteration of terrestrial and lake ecosystems. Although the warming, particularly after 1920, was likely caused by increased atmospheric trace gases, the initiation of warming in the mid-19th century suggests that increased solar radiance, decreased volcanic activity, and feedbacks internal to the climate system also played roles.

Item #d98mar28

"Comparisons Between the Microwave Sounding Unit Temperature Record and the Surface Temperature Record from 1979 to 1996: Real Differences or Potential Discontinuities?" P.D. Jones (Clim. Res. Unit, Sch. Environ. Sci., Univ. E. Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK; e-mail:, T.J. Osborn et al.,J. Geophys. Res., 102(D25), 30,135-30,145, Dec. 27, 1997.

Isolates two times over the 1979-1996 period when shifts occur in the compared data sets: in 1981 and 1991. Both occur at times of satellite changes, but both could also be entirely natural, being for instance related to volcanic eruptions. A problem with the satellite data seems more likely, but if this can be ruled out, it implies a significant change in lower atmospheric lapse rate on a global scale, particularly since 1991.

Item #d98mar29

"Global Lightning and Climate Variability Inferred from ELF Magnetic Field Variations," M. Füllekrug (STAR Lab., Stanford Univ., Stanford CA 94305), A.C. Fraser-Smith,Geophys. Res. Lett., 24(19), 2411-2414, Oct. 1, 1997.

Observations support the view of Williams (1992) that monitoring of global lightning activity could provide a thermometer-independent measure of temperature changes associated with climate variability.

Item #d98mar30

"Break-Up Dates of Alpine Lakes as Proxy Data for Local and Regional Mean Surface Air Temperatures," D.M. Livingstone (Dept. Environ. Phys., Swiss Fed. Inst. of Environ. Sci. & Technol. — EAWAG, Überlandstr. 133, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switz.),Clim. Change, 37(2), 407-439, Oct. 1997.

Investigates this approach and finds that thawing of Alpine lakes is determined to a large extent by synoptic-scale meteorological processes. Modulation of incident radiation by volcanic stratospheric aerosols may also strongly affect the timing of break-up.

Item #d98mar31

"How Accurate Are Satellite 'Thermometers?'"Nature, 389(6649), 342-343, Sep. 25, 1997.

In this correspondence, Christy et al. formally dispute claims by Hurrell and Trenberth that the satellite record of temperature trend does not show any warming because of problems calibrating instruments. (See Global Climate Change Digest, Apr. 1997, for paper by Hurrell and Trenberth and related News item.)

Item #d98mar32

"Climate Variations over Russia in the Last Decades," V.N. Razuvaev (Russian Inst. of Hydrometeor. Info., 6 Korolyov Str., Obninsk, Kaluga Reg., 249020, Russia), O.N. Bulygina et al.,World Resource Review, 9(2), 171-176, June 1997.

Reports on a recent climate study that shows upward temperature trends in winter in most of the seven climatic zones of Russia.

Item #d98mar33

"Spatial and Temporal Changes in Extreme Air Temperatures in the Arctic over the Period 1951-1990," R. Przybylak (Dept. Climatol., Nicholas Copernicus Univ., Danielewskiego 6, PL 87-100 Torun, Poland),Intl. J. Climatol., 17(6), 615-634, May 1997.

A detailed analysis of trends in daily maximum and minimum air temperatures shows a decrease in daily temperature range in most areas of the Arctic, but no evidence of any greenhouse warming over the period.

Item #d98mar34

"Estimation of the Global Warming Trend by Wavelet Analysis," D.M. Sonechkin (Hydrometeor. Res. Ctr. of the Russian Fed., Bol'shoi Predtechenskii per. 9-13, Moscow, 123242 Russia), N.M. Datsenko, N.N. Ivashchenko,Izvestiya, Atmos. & Ocean Phys., 33(2), 167-176, 1997.

Applies a statistical approach that does not require a hypothesis about the character of the trend being sought, as is the case in previous analyses. Finds a trend of about 0.6° C per century since 1900 in both hemispheres. Extrapolation suggests that the warming will be slowed or at least checked by the end of this century.

Item #d98mar35

"Temperature Variability and Extremes over Australia: Part 1 —Recent Observed Changes," N. Plummer (Natl. Clim. Ctr., GPO Box 1289K, Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia),Aust. Met. Mag., 45(4), 233-250, Dec. 1996.

This detailed study for the period 1961-1993 shows generally mixed and weak regional trends, although some patterns are identified. Results indicate that the direction of change in regional temperature variability, unlike that of temperature itself, may be difficult to predict even if changes in the broadscale atmospheric circulation are evident.

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