Energy Budget Constraints on the Time History of Aerosol Forcing and Climate Sensitivity

Smith, C. ORCID:, Harris, G. R., Palmer, M. D., Bellouin, N., Collins, W., Myhre, G., Schulz, M., Golaz, J.‐C., et al. (2021). Energy Budget Constraints on the Time History of Aerosol Forcing and Climate Sensitivity. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 126 (13) e2020JD033622. 10.1029/2020JD033622.

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Project: Coordinated Research in Earth Systems and Climate: Experiments (CRESCENDO, H2020 641816)


An observationally constrained time series of historical aerosol effective radiative forcing (ERF) from 1750 to 2019 is developed in this study. We find that the time history of aerosol ERFs diagnosed in CMIP6 models exhibits considerable variation and explore how the time history of aerosol forcing influences the probability distributions of present-day aerosol forcing and emergent metrics such as climate sensitivity. Using a simple energy balance model, trained on CMIP6 climate models and constrained by observed near-surface warming and ocean heat uptake, we derive estimates for the historical aerosol forcing. We find 2005–2014 mean aerosol ERF to be −1.1 (−1.8 to −0.5) W m−2 relative to 1750. Assuming recently published historical emissions from fossil fuel and industrial sectors and biomass burning emissions from SSP2-4.5, aerosol ERF in 2019 is −0.9 (−1.5 to −0.4) W m−2. There is a modest recovery in aerosol forcing (+0.025 W m−2 decade−1) between 1980 and 2014. This analysis also gives a 5%–95% range of equilibrium climate sensitivity of 1.8°C –5.1°C (best estimate 3.1°C) with a transient climate response of 1.2°C –2.6°C (best estimate 1.8°C).

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Integrated Assessment and Climate Change (IACC)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2021 14:22
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:35

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