Multidecadal climate oscillations during the past millennium driven by volcanic forcing

Past research argues for an internal multidecadal (40-to 60-year) oscillation distinct from climate noise. Recent studies have claimed that this so-termed Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation is instead a manifestation of competing time-varying effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols. That conclusion is bolstered by the absence of robust multidecadal climate oscillations in control simulations of current-generation models. Paleoclimate data, however, do demonstrate multidecadal oscillatory behavior during the preindustrial era. By comparing control and forced "Last Millennium" simulations, we show that these apparent multidecadal oscillations are an artifact of pulses of volcanic activity during the preindustrial era that project markedly onto the multidecadal (50-to 70-year) frequency band. We conclude that there is no compelling evidence for internal multidecadal oscillations in the climate system.

This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the AAAS for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Science on 5 March 2021, in Vol 371, Issue 6533, DOI: 10.1126/science.abc5810.



Work Title Multidecadal climate oscillations during the past millennium driven by volcanic forcing
Open Access
  1. Michael E. Mann
  2. Byron A. Steinman
  3. Daniel J. Brouillette
  4. Sonya K. Miller
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Science
Publication Date March 5, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited November 19, 2021




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added abc5810_ArticleContent_FINAL.docx
  • Added Creator Michael E. Mann
  • Added Creator Byron A. Steinman
  • Added Creator Daniel J. Brouillette
  • Added Creator Sonya K. Miller
  • Published
  • Updated
  • Updated