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Clara Deser

A Century of North Atlantic Data Indicates Interdecadal Change

A Century of North Atlantic Data Indicates Interdecadal Change

For hundreds of years mariners have recorded the weather over the world ocean. Some 100 million marine weather reports have accumulated worldwide since 1854, when an international system for the collection of meteorogical data over the oceans was established. These reports include measurements of sea surface temperature, air temperature, wind, cloudiness, and barometric pressure. In the 1980s, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) compiled these weather observations into a single, easily accessible digital archive called the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set. This important data set forms the basis for our empirical knowledge of the surface climate and its variability over the world’s oceans: One example of a variable system is the phenomenon known as El Nino in the tropical Pacific. A major challenge in climate research is to use these data to document and understand the role of the oceans in long-term—decadal and centennial—climate change.

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