, Volume 29, Issue 7-8, pp 661-696

Climate simulations for 1880–2003 with GISS modelE

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Abstract

We carry out climate simulations for 1880–2003 with GISS modelE driven by ten measured or estimated climate forcings. An ensemble of climate model runs is carried out for each forcing acting individually and for all forcing mechanisms acting together. We compare side-by-side simulated climate change for each forcing, all forcings, observations, unforced variability among model ensemble members, and, if available, observed variability. Discrepancies between observations and simulations with all forcings are due to model deficiencies, inaccurate or incomplete forcings, and imperfect observations. Although there are notable discrepancies between model and observations, the fidelity is sufficient to encourage use of the model for simulations of future climate change. By using a fixed well-documented model and accurately defining the 1880–2003 forcings, we aim to provide a benchmark against which the effect of improvements in the model, climate forcings, and observations can be tested. Principal model deficiencies include unrealistically weak tropical El Nino-like variability and a poor distribution of sea ice, with too much sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere and too little in the Southern Hemisphere. Greatest uncertainties in the forcings are the temporal and spatial variations of anthropogenic aerosols and their indirect effects on clouds.