Climatic Change

, Volume 131, Issue 2, pp 199–211 | Cite as

Model structure in observational constraints on transient climate response

  • Richard J. Millar
  • Alexander Otto
  • Piers M. Forster
  • Jason A. Lowe
  • William J. Ingram
  • Myles R. Allen
Article

Abstract

The transient climate response (TCR) is a highly policy-relevant quantity in climate science. We show that recent revisions to TCR in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report have more impact on projections over the next century than revisions to the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). While it is well known that upper bounds on ECS are dependent on model structure, here we show that the same applies to TCR. Our results use observations of the planetary energy budget, updated radiative forcing estimates and a number of simple climate models. We also investigate the ratio TCR:ECS, or realised warming fraction (RWF), a highly policy-relevant quantity. We show that global climate models (GCMs) don’t sample a region of low TCR and high RWF consistent with observed climate change under all simple models considered. Whether the additional constraints from GCMs are sufficient to rule out these low climate responses is a matter for further research.

Notes

Acknowledgments

RJM is supported by a NERC and Met Office CASE studentship. JAL and WJI were supported by the Joint DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Climate Centre Programme (GA01101). MRA was supported by the Oxford Martin School and DECC contract TRN 307/11/2011. WJI and MRA were also supported by NERC under projects NE/I00680X/1. PMF was supported by EPSRC grant EP/I014721/1 and a Royal Society Wolfson Merit award.

Supplementary material

10584_2015_1384_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (150 kb)
(PDF 149 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard J. Millar
    • 1
  • Alexander Otto
    • 2
  • Piers M. Forster
    • 4
  • Jason A. Lowe
    • 3
  • William J. Ingram
    • 1
    • 3
  • Myles R. Allen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Environmental Change InstituteUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Met Office Hadley CentreExeterUK
  4. 4.School of Earth and EnvironmentUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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