Optimal detection and attribution of climate change: sensitivity of results to climate model differences
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Fingerprint techniques for the detection of anthropogenic climate change aim to distinguish the climate response to anthropogenic forcing from responses to other external influences and from internal climate variability. All these responses and the characteristics of internal variability are typically estimated from climate model data. We evaluate the sensitivity of detection and attribution results to the use of response and variability estimates from two different coupled ocean atmosphere general circulation models (HadCM2, developed at the Hadley Centre, and ECHAM3/LSG from the MPI für Meteorologie and Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum). The models differ in their response to greenhouse gas and direct sulfate aerosol forcing and also in the structure of their internal variability. This leads to differences in the estimated amplitude and the significance level of anthropogenic signals in observed 50-year summer (June, July, August) surface temperature trends. While the detection of anthropogenic influence on climate is robust to intermodel differences, our ability to discriminate between the greenhouse gas and the sulfate aerosol signals is not. An analysis of the recent warming, and the warming that occurred in the first half of the twentieth century, suggests that simulations forced with combined changes in natural (solar and volcanic) and anthropogenic (greenhouse gas and sulfate aerosol) forcings agree best with the observations.
KeywordsInternal Variability Sulfate Aerosol Anthropogenic Climate Change Recent Warming Ocean Atmosphere
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