A Stochastic Analysis of the Impact of Small-Scale Fluctuations on the Tropospheric Temperature Response to CO2 Doubling

Rita Seiffert Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Jin-Song von Storch Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Abstract

The climate response to increased CO2 concentration is generally studied using climate models that have finite spatial and temporal resolutions. Different parameterizations of the effect of unresolved processes can result in different representations of small-scale fluctuations in the climate model. The representation of small-scale fluctuations can, on the other hand, affect the modeled climate response. In this study the mechanisms by which enhanced small-scale fluctuations alter the climate response to CO2 doubling are investigated. Climate experiments with preindustrial and doubled CO2 concentrations obtained from a comprehensive climate model [ECHAM5/Max Planck Institute Ocean Model (MPI-OM)] are analyzed both with and without enhanced small-scale fluctuations. By applying a stochastic model to the experimental results, two different mechanisms are found. First, the small-scale fluctuations can change the statistical behavior of the global mean temperature as measured by its statistical damping. The statistical damping acts as a restoring force that determines, according to the fluctuation–dissipation theory, the amplitude of the climate response to a change in external forcing (here, CO2 doubling). Second, the small-scale fluctuations can affect processes that occur only in response to the CO2 increase, thereby altering the change of the effective forcing on the global mean temperature.

* Current affiliation: Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute, Department of Hydraulic Engineering in Coastal Areas, Hamburg, Germany

Corresponding author address: Rita Seiffert, Wedeler Landstr. 157, Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute, Department of Hydraulic Engineering in Coastal Areas, Hamburg, D-22559 Germany. Email: rita.seiffert@baw.de

Abstract

The climate response to increased CO2 concentration is generally studied using climate models that have finite spatial and temporal resolutions. Different parameterizations of the effect of unresolved processes can result in different representations of small-scale fluctuations in the climate model. The representation of small-scale fluctuations can, on the other hand, affect the modeled climate response. In this study the mechanisms by which enhanced small-scale fluctuations alter the climate response to CO2 doubling are investigated. Climate experiments with preindustrial and doubled CO2 concentrations obtained from a comprehensive climate model [ECHAM5/Max Planck Institute Ocean Model (MPI-OM)] are analyzed both with and without enhanced small-scale fluctuations. By applying a stochastic model to the experimental results, two different mechanisms are found. First, the small-scale fluctuations can change the statistical behavior of the global mean temperature as measured by its statistical damping. The statistical damping acts as a restoring force that determines, according to the fluctuation–dissipation theory, the amplitude of the climate response to a change in external forcing (here, CO2 doubling). Second, the small-scale fluctuations can affect processes that occur only in response to the CO2 increase, thereby altering the change of the effective forcing on the global mean temperature.

* Current affiliation: Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute, Department of Hydraulic Engineering in Coastal Areas, Hamburg, Germany

Corresponding author address: Rita Seiffert, Wedeler Landstr. 157, Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute, Department of Hydraulic Engineering in Coastal Areas, Hamburg, D-22559 Germany. Email: rita.seiffert@baw.de

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