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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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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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