An analysis of historical sea surface temperatures provides evidence for global warming since 1900, in line with land-based analyses of global temperature trends, and also shows that over the same period, the eastern equatorial Pacific cooled and the zonal sea surface temperature gradient strengthened. Recent theoretical studies have predicted such a pattern as a response of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system to an exogenous heating of the tropical atmosphere. This pattern, however, is not reproduced by the complex ocean-atmosphere circulation models currently used to simulate the climatic response to increased greenhouse gases. Its presence is likely to lessen the mean 20th-century global temperature change in model simulations.
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