Kevin E. Trenberth

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Kevin E. Trenberth
Born (1944-11-08) November 8, 1944 (age 72)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Residence New Zealand
United States
Fields Meteorologist
Atmospheric Scientist
Institutions New Zealand Meteorological Service
University of Illinois
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sc.D. 1972)
Thesis Dynamic coupling of the stratosphere with the troposphere and sudden stratospheric warmings. (1972)
Doctoral advisor Edward Norton Lorenz
Known for

Climate models
IPCC Lead Author 1995, 2001, 2007

Diagram showing the Earth's energy balance[1]

Kevin Edward Trenberth (born November 8, 1944) is part of the Climate Analysis Section at the USA National Center for Atmospheric Research.[2] He was a lead author of the 2001 and 2007 IPCC Scientific Assessment of Climate Change (see IPCC Fourth Assessment Report) and serves on the Scientific Steering Group for the Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) program. In addition, he serves on the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme, and has made significant contributions[3] to research into El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2000, awarded the Jule G. Charney Award from the American Meteorological Society and the NCAR Distinguished Achievement Award in 2003.

Short term climate variability[edit]

In a 2009 paper "An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth's global energy", Trenberth discussed the distribution of heat and how it was affected by climate forcings including greenhouse gas changes. This could be tracked from 1993 to 2003, but for the period from 2004 to 2008 it was not then possible to explain the relatively cool temperatures of 2008. In the Climatic Research Unit email controversy an unlawfully disclosed email from Trenberth about this paper was widely misrepresented: he wrote "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." Trenberth has stated: "It is amazing to see this particular quote lambasted so often. It stems from a paper I published this year bemoaning our inability to effectively monitor the energy flows associated with short-term climate variability. It is quite clear from the paper that I was not questioning the link between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and warming, or even suggesting that recent temperatures are unusual in the context of short-term natural variability."[4]

In a 2013 scientific paper in Geophysical Research Letters, Trenberth and co-authors presented an observation-based reanalysis of global ocean temperatures. This proposed that a recent hiatus in upper-ocean-warming after 2004 had seen the long term increase interrupted by sharp cooling events due to volcanic eruptions and El Niño. Despite this, ocean warming had continued below the 700 m depth.[5]

In a second 2013 paper, Trenberth and Fasullo discussed the effect of the 1999 change from a positive to negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. This was associated with a change of surface winds over the Pacific which had caused ocean heat to penetrate below 700m. depth and had contributed to the apparent global warming hiatus in surface temperatures during the last decade.[6]

In an interview, Trenberth said "The planet is warming", but "the warmth just isn’t being manifested at the surface." He said his research showed that there had been a significant increase in deep ocean absorption of heat, particularly after 1998.[7] He told Nature that "The 1997 to ’98 El Niño event was a trigger for the changes in the Pacific, and I think that’s very probably the beginning of the hiatus”. He said that, eventually, “it will switch back in the other direction."[8] Trenberth's explanation attracted wide attention in the press.[8][9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FAQ 1.1 Fig 1 – Estimate of the Earth's annual and global mean energy balance", IPCC AR4 WG I (PDF), IPCC, 2007, p. 96 
  2. ^ Pearce, Fred, The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth about Global Warming, (2010) Guardian Books, ISBN 978-0-85265-229-9, p. XII–XIII.
  3. ^ The Weather Factory: El Nino and Global Warming
  4. ^ Kevin Trenberth on Hacking of Climate Files and "Climategate"
  5. ^ Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content, by Magdalena Balmaseda, Kevin Trenberth, Erland Kallen. Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 40, Issue 9, pages 1754–1759, 16 May 2013. Full text online
  6. ^ An apparent hiatus in global warming?, by Kevin E. Trenberth & John T. Fasullo. Earth's Future Volume 1, Issue 1, pages 19–32, December 2013
  7. ^ Global Warming 'Pause' Isn't What Climate Change Skeptics Say It Is by Terrell Johnson, The Weather Channel, Jan 13, 2014
  8. ^ a b Climate change: The case of the missing heat, Nature (journal) , Jan. 15, 2014
  9. ^ Oceans continue to warm, especially the deeps, Ars Technica, Apr 1 2013
  10. ^ Mystery of the 'Missing' Global Warming , Bloomberg News, Oct 23, 2013

External links[edit]