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Bjorn Stevens and Stephanie Fiedler


Kretzschmar et al., in a comment in 2017, use the spread in the output of aerosol–climate models to argue that the models refute the hypothesis (presented in a paper by Stevens in 2015) that for the mid-twentieth-century warming to be consistent with observations, then the present-day aerosol forcing, must be less negative than −1 W m−2. The main point of contention is the nature of the relationship between global SO2 emissions and In contrast to the concave (log-linear) relationship used by Stevens and in earlier studies, whereby becomes progressively less sensitive to SO2 emissions, some models suggest a convex relationship, which would imply a less negative lower bound. The model that best exemplifies this difference, and that is most clearly in conflict with the hypothesis of Stevens, does so because of an implausible aerosol response to the initial rise in anthropogenic aerosol precursor emissions in East and South Asia—already in 1975 this model’s clear-sky reflectance from anthropogenic aerosol over the North Pacific exceeds present-day estimates of the clear-sky reflectance by the total aerosol. The authors perform experiments using a new (observationally constrained) climatology of anthropogenic aerosols to further show that the effects of changing patterns of aerosol and aerosol precursor emissions during the late twentieth century have, for the same global emissions, relatively little effect on These findings suggest that the behavior Kretzschmar et al. identify as being in conflict with the lower bound in Stevens arises from an implausible relationship between SO2 emissions and and thus provides little basis for revising this lower bound.

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