Models show that several aspects of Earth’s top-of-atmosphere energy budget and the magnitude of projected global warming are correlated, enabling us to infer that future warming has been underestimated.

Natural unforced variability in global mean surface air temperature (GMST) can mask or exaggerate human-caused global warming, and thus a complete understanding of this variability is highly desirable. Significant progress has been made in elucidating the magnitude and physical origins of present-day unforced GMST variability, but it has remained unclear how such variability may change as the climate warms.

The comparison of observed global mean surface air temperature (GMT) change to the mean change simulated by climate models has received much public and scientific attention. For a given global warming signal produced by a climate model ensemble, there exists an envelope of GMT values representing the range of possible unforced states of the climate system (the Envelope of Unforced Noise; EUN). Typically, the EUN is derived from climate models themselves, but climate models might not accurately simulate the correct characteristics of unforced GMT variability.