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Andrei P. Sokolov

Abstract

Simulation of both the climate of the twentieth century and a future climate change requires taking into account numerous forcings, while climate sensitivities of general circulation models are defined as the equilibrium surface warming due to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. A number of simulations with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) climate model of intermediate complexity with different forcings have been carried out to study to what extent sensitivity to changes in CO2 concentration (SCO2) represent sensitivities to other forcings.

The MIT model, similar to other models, shows a strong dependency of the simulated surface warming on the vertical structure of the imposed forcing. This dependency is a result of “semidirect” effects in the simulations with localized tropospheric heating. A method for estimating semidirect effects associated with different feedback mechanisms is presented. It is shown that forcing that includes these effects is a better measure of expected surface warming than a forcing that accounts for stratospheric adjustment only.

Simulations with the versions of the MIT model with different strengths of cloud feedback show that, for the range of sensitivities produced by existing GCMs, SCO2 provides a good measure of the model sensitivity to other forcings. In the case of strong cloud feedback, sensitivity to the increase in CO2 concentration overestimates model sensitivity to both negative forcings, leading to the cooling of the surface and “black carbon”–like forcings with elevated heating. This is explained by the cloud feedback being less efficient in the case of increasing sea ice extent and snow cover or by the above-mentioned semidirect effects, which are absent in the CO2 simulations, respectively.

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Andrei P. Sokolov and Erwan Monier

Abstract

Conducting probabilistic climate projections with a particular climate model requires the ability to vary the model’s characteristics, such as its climate sensitivity. In this study, the authors implement and validate a method to change the climate sensitivity of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Atmosphere Model, version 3 (CAM3), through cloud radiative adjustment. Results show that the cloud radiative adjustment method does not lead to physically unrealistic changes in the model’s response to an external forcing, such as doubling CO2 concentrations or increasing sulfate aerosol concentrations. Furthermore, this method has some advantages compared to the traditional perturbed physics approach. In particular, the cloud radiative adjustment method can produce any value of climate sensitivity within the wide range of uncertainty based on the observed twentieth century climate change. As a consequence, this method allows Monte Carlo–type probabilistic climate forecasts to be conducted where values of uncertain parameters not only cover the whole uncertainty range, but cover it homogeneously. Unlike the perturbed physics approach that can produce several versions of a model with the same climate sensitivity but with very different regional patterns of change, the cloud radiative adjustment method can only produce one version of the model with a specific climate sensitivity. As such, a limitation of this method is that it cannot cover the full uncertainty in regional patterns of climate change.

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Andrei P. Sokolov, Chris E. Forest, and Peter H. Stone

Abstract

The transient response of both surface air temperature and deep ocean temperature to an increasing external forcing strongly depends on climate sensitivity and the rate of the heat mixing into the deep ocean, estimates for both of which have large uncertainty. In this paper a method for estimating rates of oceanic heat uptake for coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models from results of transient climate change simulations is described. For models considered in this study, the estimates vary by a factor of 2½. Nevertheless, values of oceanic heat uptake for all models fall in the range implied by the climate record for the last century. It is worth noting that the range of the model values is narrower than that consistent with observations and thus does not provide a full measure of the uncertainty in the rate of oceanic heat uptake.

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Fabio Dalan, Peter H. Stone, and Andrei P. Sokolov

Abstract

The sensitivity of the ocean’s climate to the diapycnal diffusivity in the ocean is studied for a global warming scenario in which CO2 increases by 1% yr−1 for 75 yr. The thermohaline circulation slows down for about 100 yr and recovers afterward, for any value of the diapycnal diffusivity. The rates of slowdown and of recovery, as well as the percentage recovery of the circulation at the end of 1000-yr integrations, are variable, but a direct relation with the diapycnal diffusivity cannot be found. At year 70 (when CO2 has doubled) an increase of the diapycnal diffusivity from 0.1 to 1.0 cm2 s−1 leads to a decrease in surface air temperature of about 0.4 K and an increase in sea level rise of about 4 cm. The steric height gradient is divided into thermal component and haline component. It appears that, in the first 60 yr of simulated global warming, temperature variations dominate the salinity ones in weakly diffusive models, whereas the opposite occurs in strongly diffusive models.

The analysis of the vertical heat balance reveals that deep-ocean heat uptake is due to reduced upward isopycnal diffusive flux and parameterized-eddy advective flux. Surface warming, induced by enhanced CO2 in the atmosphere, leads to a reduction of the isopycnal slope, which translates into a reduction of the above fluxes. The amount of reduction is directly related to the magnitude of the isopycnal diffusive flux and parameterized-eddy advective flux at equilibrium. These latter fluxes depend on the thickness of the thermocline at equilibrium and hence on the diapycnal diffusion. Thus, the increase of deep-ocean heat uptake with diapycnal diffusivity is an indirect effect that the latter parameter has on the isopycnal diffusion and parameterized-eddy advection.

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Boyin Huang, Peter H. Stone, Andrei P. Sokolov, and Igor V. Kamenkovich

Abstract

The ocean heat uptake (OHU) is studied using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ocean general circulation model (OGCM) with idealized ocean geometry. The OGCM is coupled with a statistical–dynamic atmospheric model. The simulation of OHU in the coupled model is consistent with other coupled ocean–atmosphere GCMs in a transient climate change when CO2 concentration increases by 1% yr–1. The global average surface air temperature increases by 1.7°C at the time of CO2 concentration doubling (year 70). The ocean temperature increases by about 1.0°C near the surface, 0.1°C at 1000 m in the Pacific, and 0.3°C in the Atlantic. The maximum overturning circulation (MOTC) in the Atlantic at 1350 m decreases by about 4.5 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s–1). The center of MOTC drifts upward about 300 m, and therefore a large OTC anomaly (14 Sv) is found at 2700 m. The MOTC recovers gradually, but the OTC anomaly at 2700 m does not seem to recover after CO2 concentration is kept constant during 400-yr simulation period.

The diagnosis of heat flux convergence anomaly indicates that the warming in the lower latitudes of the Atlantic is associated with large-scale advection. But, the warming in the higher latitudes is associated with the heat brought down from the surface by convection and eddy mixing. In global average, the treatments of convection and eddy mixing are the two main factors affecting the OHU.

The uncertainty of OHU due to subgrid-scale eddy mixing is studied. In the MIT OGCM this mixing is a combination of Gent–McWilliams bolus advection and Redi isopycnal diffusion (GMR), with a single diffusivity being used to calculate the isopycnal and thickness diffusion. Experiments are carried out with values of the diffusivity of 500, 1000, and 2000 m2 s–1. The total OHU is insensitive to these changes. The insensitivity is mainly due to the changes in the vertical heat flux by GMR mixing being compensated by changes in the other vertical heat flux components.

In the Atlantic when the diffusivity is reduced from 1000 to 500 m2 s–1, the surface warming can penetrate deeper. Therefore, the warming decreases by about 0.15°C above 2000 m but increases by about 0.15°C below 2500 m. Similarly, when the diffusivity is increased from 1000 to 2000 m2 s–1, the surface warming becomes shallower; the warming increases by about 0.2°C above 1000 m but decreases by about 0.2°C below 1000 m. These changes in the vertical distribution of the OHU also contribute to the insensitivity of the total OHU to changes in the GMR mixing. The analysis of heat flux convergence indicates that the difference of OHU seems to be associated with the MOTC circulation.

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C. Adam Schlosser, Xiang Gao, Kenneth Strzepek, Andrei Sokolov, Chris E. Forest, Sirein Awadalla, and William Farmer

Abstract

The growing need for risk-based assessments of impacts and adaptation to climate change calls for increased capability in climate projections: specifically, the quantification of the likelihood of regional outcomes and the representation of their uncertainty. Herein, the authors present a technique that extends the latitudinal projections of the 2D atmospheric model of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Integrated Global System Model (IGSM) by applying longitudinally resolved patterns from observations, and from climate model projections archived from exercises carried out for the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The method maps the IGSM zonal means across longitude using a set of transformation coefficients, and this approach is demonstrated in application to near-surface air temperature and precipitation, for which high-quality observational datasets and model simulations of climate change are available. The current climatology of the transformation coefficients is observationally based. To estimate how these coefficients may alter with climate, the authors characterize the climate models’ spatial responses, relative to their zonal mean, from transient increases in trace-gas concentrations and then normalize these responses against their corresponding transient global temperature responses. This procedure allows for the construction of metaensembles of regional climate outcomes, combining the ensembles of the MIT IGSM—which produce global and latitudinal climate projections, with uncertainty, under different global climate policy scenarios—with regionally resolved patterns from the archived IPCC climate model projections. This hybridization of the climate model longitudinal projections with the global and latitudinal patterns projected by the IGSM can, in principle, be applied to any given state or flux variable that has the sufficient observational and model-based information.

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Boyin Huang, Peter H. Stone, Andrei P. Sokolov, and Igor V. Kamenkovich

Abstract

The deep-ocean heat uptake (DOHU) in transient climate changes is studied using an ocean general circulation model (OGCM) and its adjoint. The model configuration consists of idealized Pacific and Atlantic basins. The model is forced with the anomalies of surface heat and freshwater fluxes from a global warming scenario with a coupled model using the same ocean configuration. In the global warming scenario, CO2 concentration increases 1% yr−1. The heat uptake calculated from the coupled model and from the adjoint are virtually identical, showing that the heat uptake by the OGCM is a linear process.

After 70 yr the ocean heat uptake is almost evenly distributed within the layers above 200 m, between 200 and 700 m, and below 700 m (about 20 × 1022 J in each). The effect of anomalous surface freshwater flux on the DOHU is negligible. Analysis of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP-2) data for the same global warming scenario shows that qualitatively similar results apply to coupled atmosphere–ocean GCMs.

The penetration of surface heat flux to the deep ocean in the OGCM occurs mainly in the North Atlantic and the Southern Ocean, since both the sensitivity of DOHU to the surface heat flux and the magnitude of anomalous surface heat flux are large in these two regions. The DOHU relies on the reduction of convection and Gent–McWilliams–Redi mixing in the North Atlantic, and the reduction of Gent–McWilliams–Redi mixing in the Southern Ocean.

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Andrei P. Sokolov, David W. Kicklighter, Jerry M. Melillo, Benjamin S. Felzer, C. Adam Schlosser, and Timothy W. Cronin

Abstract

The impact of carbon–nitrogen dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems on the interaction between the carbon cycle and climate is studied using an earth system model of intermediate complexity, the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model (IGSM). Numerical simulations were carried out with two versions of the IGSM’s Terrestrial Ecosystems Model, one with and one without carbon–nitrogen dynamics.

Simulations show that consideration of carbon–nitrogen interactions not only limits the effect of CO2 fertilization but also changes the sign of the feedback between the climate and terrestrial carbon cycle. In the absence of carbon–nitrogen interactions, surface warming significantly reduces carbon sequestration in both vegetation and soil by increasing respiration and decomposition (a positive feedback). If plant carbon uptake, however, is assumed to be nitrogen limited, an increase in decomposition leads to an increase in nitrogen availability stimulating plant growth. The resulting increase in carbon uptake by vegetation exceeds carbon loss from the soil, leading to enhanced carbon sequestration (a negative feedback). Under very strong surface warming, however, terrestrial ecosystems become a carbon source whether or not carbon–nitrogen interactions are considered.

Overall, for small or moderate increases in surface temperatures, consideration of carbon–nitrogen interactions result in a larger increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration in the simulations with prescribed carbon emissions. This suggests that models that ignore terrestrial carbon–nitrogen dynamics will underestimate reductions in carbon emissions required to achieve atmospheric CO2 stabilization at a given level. At the same time, compensation between climate-related changes in the terrestrial and oceanic carbon uptakes significantly reduces uncertainty in projected CO2 concentration.

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Guy P. Brasseur, Mohan Gupta, Bruce E. Anderson, Sathya Balasubramanian, Steven Barrett, David Duda, Gregg Fleming, Piers M. Forster, Jan Fuglestvedt, Andrew Gettelman, Rangasayi N. Halthore, S. Daniel Jacob, Mark Z. Jacobson, Arezoo Khodayari, Kuo-Nan Liou, Marianne T. Lund, Richard C. Miake-Lye, Patrick Minnis, Seth Olsen, Joyce E. Penner, Ronald Prinn, Ulrich Schumann, Henry B. Selkirk, Andrei Sokolov, Nadine Unger, Philip Wolfe, Hsi-Wu Wong, Donald W. Wuebbles, Bingqi Yi, Ping Yang, and Cheng Zhou

Abstract

Under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aviation Climate Change Research Initiative (ACCRI), non-CO2 climatic impacts of commercial aviation are assessed for current (2006) and for future (2050) baseline and mitigation scenarios. The effects of the non-CO2 aircraft emissions are examined using a number of advanced climate and atmospheric chemistry transport models. Radiative forcing (RF) estimates for individual forcing effects are provided as a range for comparison against those published in the literature. Preliminary results for selected RF components for 2050 scenarios indicate that a 2% increase in fuel efficiency and a decrease in NOx emissions due to advanced aircraft technologies and operational procedures, as well as the introduction of renewable alternative fuels, will significantly decrease future aviation climate impacts. In particular, the use of renewable fuels will further decrease RF associated with sulfate aerosol and black carbon. While this focused ACCRI program effort has yielded significant new knowledge, fundamental uncertainties remain in our understanding of aviation climate impacts. These include several chemical and physical processes associated with NOx–O3–CH4 interactions and the formation of aviation-produced contrails and the effects of aviation soot aerosols on cirrus clouds as well as on deriving a measure of change in temperature from RF for aviation non-CO2 climate impacts—an important metric that informs decision-making.

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Kirsten Zickfeld, Michael Eby, Andrew J. Weaver, Kaitlin Alexander, Elisabeth Crespin, Neil R. Edwards, Alexey V. Eliseev, Georg Feulner, Thierry Fichefet, Chris E. Forest, Pierre Friedlingstein, Hugues Goosse, Philip B. Holden, Fortunat Joos, Michio Kawamiya, David Kicklighter, Hendrik Kienert, Katsumi Matsumoto, Igor I. Mokhov, Erwan Monier, Steffen M. Olsen, Jens O. P. Pedersen, Mahe Perrette, Gwenaëlle Philippon-Berthier, Andy Ridgwell, Adam Schlosser, Thomas Schneider Von Deimling, Gary Shaffer, Andrei Sokolov, Renato Spahni, Marco Steinacher, Kaoru Tachiiri, Kathy S. Tokos, Masakazu Yoshimori, Ning Zeng, and Fang Zhao

Abstract

This paper summarizes the results of an intercomparison project with Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity (EMICs) undertaken in support of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The focus is on long-term climate projections designed to 1) quantify the climate change commitment of different radiative forcing trajectories and 2) explore the extent to which climate change is reversible on human time scales. All commitment simulations follow the four representative concentration pathways (RCPs) and their extensions to year 2300. Most EMICs simulate substantial surface air temperature and thermosteric sea level rise commitment following stabilization of the atmospheric composition at year-2300 levels. The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is weakened temporarily and recovers to near-preindustrial values in most models for RCPs 2.6–6.0. The MOC weakening is more persistent for RCP8.5. Elimination of anthropogenic CO2 emissions after 2300 results in slowly decreasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. At year 3000 atmospheric CO2 is still at more than half its year-2300 level in all EMICs for RCPs 4.5–8.5. Surface air temperature remains constant or decreases slightly and thermosteric sea level rise continues for centuries after elimination of CO2 emissions in all EMICs. Restoration of atmospheric CO2 from RCP to preindustrial levels over 100–1000 years requires large artificial removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and does not result in the simultaneous return to preindustrial climate conditions, as surface air temperature and sea level response exhibit a substantial time lag relative to atmospheric CO2.

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