Publications associated with Climate Dynamics

Model structure in observational constraints on transient climate response

Climatic Change 131 (2015) 199-211

RJ Millar, A Otto, PM Forster, JA Lowe, WJ Ingram, MR Allen

© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. The transient climate response (TCR) is a highly policy-relevant quantity in climate science. We show that recent revisions to TCR in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report have more impact on projections over the next century than revisions to the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). While it is well known that upper bounds on ECS are dependent on model structure, here we show that the same applies to TCR. Our results use observations of the planetary energy budget, updated radiative forcing estimates and a number of simple climate models. We also investigate the ratio TCR:ECS, or realised warming fraction (RWF), a highly policy-relevant quantity. We show that global climate models (GCMs) don’t sample a region of low TCR and high RWF consistent with observed climate change under all simple models considered. Whether the additional constraints from GCMs are sufficient to rule out these low climate responses is a matter for further research.

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