Early Twentieth Century Southern Hemisphere Cooling
Abstract. Global surface air temperature increased by ca. 0.5 °C from the 1900s to the mid-1940s, also known as Early Twentieth Century Warming (ETCW). However, the ETCW started from a particularly cold phase, peaking in 1908–1911. The cold phase was global but more pronounced in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern Hemisphere and most pronounced in the Southern Ocean, raising the question whether uncertainties in the data might play a role. Here we analyse this period based on reanalysis data and reconstructions, complemented with newly digitized ship data from 1903–1916 as well as land observations. The cooling is seen consistently in different data sets, though with some differences. Results suggest that the cooling was related to a La Niña-like pattern in the Pacific, a cold tropical and subtropical South Atlantic, a cold extratropical South Pacific, and cool Southern midlatitude land areas. The Southern Annular Mode was positive, with a strengthened Amundsen-Bellingshausen seas low, although the spread of the data products is considerable. All results point to a real climatic phenomenon as the cause of this anomaly and not a data artefact. Atmospheric model simulations are able to reproduce temperature and pressure patterns, consistent with a real and perhaps ocean-forced signal. Together with two volcanic eruptions just before and after the 1908–1911 period, the early 1900s provided a cold start into the ETCW.
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