Izvestiya, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 279-287

First online:

Estimation of the uncertainty of future changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and its radiative forcing

  • A. V. EliseevAffiliated withA.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences Email author 

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An ensemble experiment with the IAP RAS CM was performed to estimate future changes in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, its radiative forcing, and characteristics of the climate-carbon cycle feedback. Different ensemble members were obtained by varying the governing parameters of the terrestrial carbon cycle of the model. For 1860–2100, anthropogenic CO2 emissions due to fossil-fuel burning and land use were prescribed from observational estimates for the 19th and 20th centuries. For the 21st century, emissions were taken from the SRES A2 scenario. The ensemble of numerical experiments was analyzed via Bayesian statistics, which made the uncertainty range of estimates much narrower. To distinguish between realistic and unrealistic ensemble members, the observational characteristics of the carbon cycle for the 20th century were used as a criterion. For the given emission scenario, the carbon dioxide concentration expected by the end of the 21st century falls into the range 818 ± 46 ppm (an average plus or minus standard deviation). The corresponding global instantaneous radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere (relative to the preindustrial state) lies in the uncertainty range 6.8 ± 0.4 W m−2. The uncertainty range of the strength of the climate-carbon cycle feedback by the end of the 21st century reaches 59 ± 98 ppm in terms of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and 0.4 ± 0.7 W m−2 in terms of the radiative forcing.