Inhomogeneous forcing and transient climate sensitivity

Published

Journal Article

Understanding climate sensitivity is critical to projecting climate change in response to a given forcing scenario. Recent analyses have suggested that transient climate sensitivity is at the low end of the present model range taking into account the reduced warming rates during the past 10-15 years during which forcing has increased markedly. In contrast, comparisons of modelled feedback processes with observations indicate that the most realistic models have higher sensitivities. Here I analyse results from recent climate modelling intercomparison projects to demonstrate that transient climate sensitivity to historical aerosols and ozone is substantially greater than the transient climate sensitivity to CO 2. This enhanced sensitivity is primarily caused by more of the forcing being located at Northern Hemisphere middle to high latitudes where it triggers more rapid land responses and stronger feedbacks. I find that accounting for this enhancement largely reconciles the two sets of results, and I conclude that the lowest end of the range of transient climate response to CO 2 in present models and assessments (<1.3 °C) is very unlikely. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shindell, DT

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 4 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 274 - 277

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1758-6798

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1758-678X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/nclimate2136

Citation Source

  • Scopus