Magnitudes and Spatial Patterns of Interdecadal Temperature Variability in CMIP6

Luke A. Parsons, M. Kathleen Brennan, Robert C.J. Wills, Cristian Proistosescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attribution and prediction of global and regional warming requires a better understanding of the magnitude and spatial characteristics of internal global mean surface air temperature (GMST) variability. We examine interdecadal GMST variability in Coupled Modeling Intercomparison Projects, Phases 3, 5, and 6 (CMIP3, CMIP5, and CMIP6) preindustrial control (piControl), last millennium, and historical simulations and in observational data. We find that several CMIP6 simulations show more GMST interdecadal variability than the previous generations of model simulations. Nonetheless, we find that 100-year trends in CMIP6 piControl simulations never exceed the maximum observed warming trend. Furthermore, interdecadal GMST variability in the unforced piControl simulations is associated with regional variability in the high latitudes and the east Pacific, whereas interdecadal GMST variability in instrumental data and in historical simulations with external forcing is more globally coherent and is associated with variability in tropical deep convective regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019GL086588
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 16 2020


  • CMIP6
  • climate change
  • climate dynamics
  • decadal climate variability
  • internal and forced variability
  • model-observation comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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