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D. J. L. Olivié, G. P. Peters, and D. Saint-Martin

Abstract

The global-mean surface air temperature response of the climate system to a specific radiative forcing shows characteristic time scales. Identifying these time scales and their corresponding amplitudes (climate sensitivity) allows one to approximate the response to arbitrary radiative forcings. The authors estimate these time scales for a set of atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) based on relatively short integrations of 100–300 yr for some idealized forcings. Two modes can be clearly distinguished but a large spread in time scales and climate sensitivities exists among the AOGCMs. The analysis herein also shows that different factors influence the mode estimates. The value and uncertainty of the smallest time scale estimate is significantly lower when based on step scenarios than gradual scenarios; the uncertainty on the climate sensitivity of the slow mode can only be reduced significantly by performing longer AOGCM simulations; and scenarios with only a monotonically increasing forcing do not easily permit the climate sensitivity and the response time for the slow mode to be disentangled. Finally, climate sensitivities can be estimated more accurately than response times.

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O. Geoffroy, D. Saint-Martin, D. J. L. Olivié, A. Voldoire, G. Bellon, and S. Tytéca

Abstract

This is the first part of a series of two articles analyzing the global thermal properties of atmosphere–ocean coupled general circulation models (AOGCMs) within the framework of a two-layer energy-balance model (EBM). In this part, the general analytical solution of the system is given and two idealized climate change scenarios, one with a step forcing and one with a linear forcing, are discussed. These solutions give a didactic description of the contributions from the equilibrium response and of the fast and slow transient responses during a climate transition. Based on these analytical solutions, a simple and physically based procedure to calibrate the two-layer model parameters using an AOGCM step-forcing experiment is introduced. Using this procedure, the global thermal properties of 16 AOGCMs participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are determined. It is shown that, for a given AOGCM, the EBM tuned with only the abrupt 4×CO2 experiment is able to reproduce with a very good accuracy the temperature evolution in both a step-forcing and a linear-forcing experiment. The role of the upper-ocean and deep-ocean heat uptakes in the fast and slow responses is also discussed. One of the main weaknesses of the simple EBM discussed in this part is its ability to represent the evolution of the top-of-the-atmosphere radiative imbalance in the transient regime. This issue is addressed in Part II by taking into account the efficacy factor of deep-ocean heat uptake.

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O. Geoffroy, D. Saint-Martin, G. Bellon, A. Voldoire, D. J. L. Olivié, and S. Tytéca

Abstract

In this second part of a series of two articles analyzing the global thermal properties of atmosphere–ocean coupled general circulation models (AOGCMs) within the framework of a two-layer energy-balance model (EBM), the role of the efficacy of deep-ocean heat uptake is investigated. Taking into account such an efficacy factor is shown to amount to representing the effect of deep-ocean heat uptake on the local strength of the radiative feedback in the transient regime. It involves an additional term in the formulation of the radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere (TOA), which explains the nonlinearity between radiative imbalance and the mean surface temperature observed in some AOGCMs. An analytical solution of this system is given and this simple linear EBM is calibrated for the set of 16 AOGCMs of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) studied in Part I. It is shown that both the net radiative fluxes at TOA and the global surface temperature transient response are well represented by the simple EBM over the available period of simulations. Differences between this two-layer EBM and the previous version without an efficacy factor are analyzed and relationships between parameters are discussed. The simple model calibration applied to AOGCMs constitutes a new method for estimating their respective equilibrium climate sensitivity and adjusted radiative forcing amplitude from short-term step-forcing simulations and more generally a method to compute their global thermal properties.

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L. Liu, D. Shawki, A. Voulgarakis, M. Kasoar, B. H. Samset, G. Myhre, P. M. Forster, Ø. Hodnebrog, J. Sillmann, S. G. Aalbergsjø, O. Boucher, G. Faluvegi, T. Iversen, A. Kirkevåg, J.-F. Lamarque, D. Olivié, T. Richardson, D. Shindell, and T. Takemura

Abstract

Atmospheric aerosols such as sulfate and black carbon (BC) generate inhomogeneous radiative forcing and can affect precipitation in distinct ways compared to greenhouse gases (GHGs). Their regional effects on the atmospheric energy budget and circulation can be important for understanding and predicting global and regional precipitation changes, which act on top of the background GHG-induced hydrological changes. Under the framework of the Precipitation Driver Response Model Intercomparison Project (PDRMIP), multiple models were used for the first time to simulate the influence of regional (Asian and European) sulfate and BC forcing on global and regional precipitation. The results show that, as in the case of global aerosol forcing, the global fast precipitation response to regional aerosol forcing scales with global atmospheric absorption, and the slow precipitation response scales with global surface temperature response. Asian sulfate aerosols appear to be a stronger driver of global temperature and precipitation change compared to European aerosols, but when the responses are normalized by unit radiative forcing or by aerosol burden change, the picture reverses, with European aerosols being more efficient in driving global change. The global apparent hydrological sensitivities of these regional forcing experiments are again consistent with those for corresponding global aerosol forcings found in the literature. However, the regional responses and regional apparent hydrological sensitivities do not align with the corresponding global values. Through a holistic approach involving analysis of the energy budget combined with exploring changes in atmospheric dynamics, we provide a framework for explaining the global and regional precipitation responses to regional aerosol forcing.

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