Coherence among the Northern Hemisphere land, cryosphere, and ocean responses to natural variability and anthropogenic forcing during the satellite era

Alemu Gonsamo, Jing M. Chen, Drew T. Shindell, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


A lack of long-term measurements across Earth's biological and physical systems has made observation-based detection and attribution of climate change impacts to anthropogenic forcing and natural variability difficult. Here we explore coherence among land, cryosphere and ocean responses to recent climate change using 3 decades (1980-2012) of observational satellite and field data throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Our results show coherent interannual variability among snow cover, spring phenology, solar radiation, Scandinavian Pattern, and North Atlantic Oscillation. The interannual variability of the atmospheric peak-to-trough CO2 amplitude is mostly impacted by temperature-mediated effects of El Ninõ/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific/North American Pattern (PNA), whereas CO2 concentration is affected by Polar Pattern control on sea ice extent dynamics. This is assuming the trend in anthropogenic CO2 emission remains constant, or the interannual changes in the trends are negligible. Our analysis suggests that sea ice decline-related CO2 release may outweigh increased CO2 uptake through longer growing seasons and higher temperatures. The direct effects of variation in solar radiation and leading teleconnections, at least in part via their impacts on temperature, dominate the interannual variability of land, cryosphere and ocean indicators. Our results reveal a coherent long-term changes in multiple physical and biological systems that are consistent with anthropogenic forcing of Earth's climate and inconsistent with natural drivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-734
Number of pages18
JournalEarth System Dynamics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 30 2016
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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