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Sulfate Aerosol Indirect Effect and CO2 Greenhouse Forcing: EquilibriumResponse of the LMD GCM and Associated Cloud Feedbacks

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  • 1 Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, CNRS, Paris, France
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Abstract

The climate sensitivity to various forcings, and in particular to changes in CO2 and sulfate aerosol concentrations, imposed separately or in a combined manner, is studied with an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a simple slab oceanic model. The atmospheric model includes a rather detailed treatment of warm cloud microphysics and takes the aerosol indirect effects into account explicitly, although in a simplified manner. The structure of the model response appears to be organized at a global scale, with a partial independence from the geographical structure of the forcing. Atmospheric and surface feedbacks are likely to explain this feature. In particular the cloud feedbacks play a very similar role in the CO2 and aerosol experiments, but with opposite sign. These results strengthen the idea, already apparent from other studies, that, in spite of their different nature and their different geographical and vertical distributions, aerosol may have substantially counteracted the climate effect of greenhouse gases, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, during the twentieth century. When the effects of the two forcings are added, the model response is not symmetric between the two hemispheres. This feature is also consistent with the findings of other modeling groups and has implications for the detection of future climate changes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Hervé Le Treut, Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique du CNRS, casier 99, 4 Place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France.

Email: letreut@lmd.jussieu.fr

Abstract

The climate sensitivity to various forcings, and in particular to changes in CO2 and sulfate aerosol concentrations, imposed separately or in a combined manner, is studied with an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a simple slab oceanic model. The atmospheric model includes a rather detailed treatment of warm cloud microphysics and takes the aerosol indirect effects into account explicitly, although in a simplified manner. The structure of the model response appears to be organized at a global scale, with a partial independence from the geographical structure of the forcing. Atmospheric and surface feedbacks are likely to explain this feature. In particular the cloud feedbacks play a very similar role in the CO2 and aerosol experiments, but with opposite sign. These results strengthen the idea, already apparent from other studies, that, in spite of their different nature and their different geographical and vertical distributions, aerosol may have substantially counteracted the climate effect of greenhouse gases, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, during the twentieth century. When the effects of the two forcings are added, the model response is not symmetric between the two hemispheres. This feature is also consistent with the findings of other modeling groups and has implications for the detection of future climate changes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Hervé Le Treut, Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique du CNRS, casier 99, 4 Place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France.

Email: letreut@lmd.jussieu.fr

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