Climate Dynamics

, Volume 41, Issue 9–10, pp 2471–2479

Quantifying global climate feedbacks, responses and forcing under abrupt and gradual CO2 forcing


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-013-1677-0

Cite this article as:
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.


CMIP5 Feedbacks Forcing Response 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Exeter Climate Systems, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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