Climate Dynamics

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 651–662

On the effect of decreasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere


    • Department of PhysicsSapienza University of Rome
  • Klaus Fraedrich
    • Universität Hamburg
  • Alfonso Sutera
    • Department of PhysicsSapienza University of Rome
  • Xiuhua Zhu
    • Universität Hamburg

DOI: 10.1007/s00382-012-1581-z

Cite this article as:
Bordi, I., Fraedrich, K., Sutera, A. et al. Clim Dyn (2013) 40: 651. doi:10.1007/s00382-012-1581-z


In the present paper the effect of an abrupt change of the atmospheric radiative forcing is investigated by means of a global climate model that includes a mixed layer ocean. In assessing if, under such a change, the model response has a bifurcation point, the steady solution is studied for a sudden decrease of CO2 concentration from its actual value. It is found that there is a critical threshold for CO2 content below which the model ends up to a snowball Earth. It occurs for a few percentage changes of CO2 concentration around the threshold because the model strongly depends on the relationship among atmospheric temperature, water vapor content and the sudden ice-albedo feedback activation, even in the subtropical regions. Moreover, results suggest that the transition to ice-covered Earth is clearly favoured when Q-flux corrections (i.e. the parameterization of ocean heat transports) are removed.


Radiative forcing changeHysteresis cycleGlobal climate modelEnergy balance model

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012