Quantifying global climate feedbacks, responses and forcing under abrupt and gradual CO2 forcing
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- Long, D.J. & Collins, M. Clim Dyn (2013) 41: 2471. doi:10.1007/s00382-013-1677-0
Experiments with abrupt CO2 forcing allow the diagnosis of the response of global mean temperature and precipitation in terms of fast temperature independent adjustments and slow, linear temperature-dependent feedbacks. Here we compare responses, feedbacks and forcings in experiments performed as part of version 5 of the coupled model inter-comparison project (CMIP5). The experiments facilitate, for the first time, a comparison of fully coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (GCM’s) under both linearly increasing and abrupt radiative forcing. In the case of a 1 % per year compounded increase in CO2 concentration, we find that the non-linear evolution of surface air temperature in time, when combined with the linear evolution of the radiative balance at the top of the atmosphere, results in a feedback parameter and effective climate sensitivity having an offset compared to values computed from abrupt 4× CO2 forcing experiments. The linear evolution of the radiative balance at the top of the atmosphere also contributes to an offset between the global mean precipitation response predicted in the 1 % experiment using linear theory and that diagnosed from the experiments themselves, and a potential error between the adjusted radiative forcing and that produced using a standard linear formula. The non-linear evolution of temperature and precipitation responses are also evident in the RCP8.5 scenario and have implications for understanding, quantifying and emulating the global response of the CMIP5 climate GCMs.