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Breaks, trends and the attribution of climate change: a time-series analysis

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  • Pierre Perron

    () (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Francisco Estrada

    () (Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Abstract

Climate change detection and attribution have been the subject of intense research and debate over at least four decades. However, direct attribution of climate change to anthropogenic activities using observed climate and forcing variables through statistical methods has remained elusive, partly caused by the difficulties for correctly identifying the time-series properties of these variables and by the limited availability of methods for relating nonstationary variables. This paper provides strong evidence concerning the direct attribution of observed climate change to anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions by first investigating the univariate time-series properties of observed global and hemispheric temperatures and forcing variables and then by proposing statistically adequate multivariate models. The results show that there is a clear anthropogenic fingerprint on both global and hemispheric temperatures. The signal of the well-mixed GHG forcing in all temperature series is very clear and accounts for most of their secular movement since the beginning of observations. Both temperature and forcing variables are characterized by piecewise linear trends with abrupt changes in their slopes estimated to occur at different dates. Nevertheless, their long-term movements are so closely related that the observed temperature and forcing trends cancel out. The warming experimented during the last century was mainly due to the increase in GHG which was partially offset by the effect of tropospheric aerosols. Other forcing sources, such as solar, are shown to only contribute to (shorter-term) variations around the GHG forcing trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Perron & Francisco Estrada, 2012. "Breaks, trends and the attribution of climate change: a time-series analysis," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2012-013, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2012-013
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    File URL: http://people.bu.edu/perron/papers/attribution.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Yoosoon Chang & Robert K. Kaufmann & Chang Sik Kim & J. Isaac Miller & Joon Y. Park & Sungkeun Park, 2015. "Time Series Analysis of Global Temperature Distributions: Identifying and Estimating Persistent Features in Temperature Anomalies," Working Papers 1513, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 25 Jul 2016.
    2. Sun, Jingwei & Shi, Wendong, 2015. "Breaks, trends, and unit roots in spot prices for crude oil and petroleum products," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 169-177.
    3. Yoosoon Chang & Robert K. Kaufmann & Chang Sik Kim & J. Isaac Miller & Joon Y. Park & Sungkeun Park, 2015. "Evaluating trends in time series of distributions: A spatial fingerprint of human effects on climate," Working Papers 1622, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 19 Dec 2016.

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