Early onset of industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The evolution of industrial-era warming across the continents and oceans provides a context for future climate change and is important for determining climate sensitivity and the processes that control regional warming. Here we use post-ad 1500 palaeoclimate records to show that sustained industrial-era warming of the tropical oceans first developed during the mid-nineteenth century and was nearly synchronous with Northern Hemisphere continental warming. The early onset of sustained, significant warming in palaeoclimate records and model simulations suggests that greenhouse forcing of industrial-era warming commenced as early as the mid-nineteenth century and included an enhanced equatorial ocean response mechanism. The development of Southern Hemisphere warming is delayed in reconstructions, but this apparent delay is not reproduced in climate simulations. Our findings imply that instrumental records are too short to comprehensively assess anthropogenic climate change and that, in some regions, about 180 years of industrial-era warming has already caused surface temperatures to emerge above pre-industrial values, even when taking natural variability into account.


  • Nerilie J. Abram
  • Helen V. McGregor
  • Jessica E. Tierney
  • Michael N. Evans
  • Nicholas P. McKay
  • Darrell S. Kaufman
  • Kaustubh Thirumalai
  • Belen Martrat
  • Hugues Goosse
  • Steven J. Phipps
  • Eric J. Steig
  • K. Halimeda Kilbourne
  • Casey P. Saenger
  • Jens Zinke
  • Guillaume Leduc
  • Jason A. Addison
  • P. Graham Mortyn
  • Marit Solveig Seidenkrantz
  • Marie Alexandrine Sicre
  • Kandasamy Selvaraj
  • Raphael Neukom
  • Joelle Gergis
  • Mark A J Curran
  • Lucien Von Gunten
External organisations
  • University of Wollongong
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Texas
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Tasmania
  • Aarhus University
  • Xiamen University
  • Australian National University
  • University of Arizona
  • Northern Arizona University
  • CSIC Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA)
  • Université catholique de Louvain
  • University of Washington
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Curtin University
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science
  • Free University of Berlin
  • Aix-Marseille University
  • United States Geological Survey, Reston
  • Autonomous University of Barcelona
  • Pierre and Marie Curie University
  • University of Bern
  • University of Melbourne
  • Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre
  • PAGES (Past Global Changes)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Climate Research
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-418
Number of pages8
Issue number7617
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 24
Publication categoryResearch

Related research output

PAGES2k Consortium, 2017 Jul 11, In : Scientific Data. 4, 170088.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

McGregor, H. V., Evans, M. N., Goosse, H., Leduc, G., Martrat, B., Addison, J. A., Mortyn, P. G., Oppo, D. W., Seidenkrantz, M-S., Sicre, M-A., Phipps, S. J., Selvaraj, K., Thirumalai, K., Helena Filipsson & Ersek, V., 2015, In : Nature Geoscience. 8, 9, p. 671-677

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