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Effect of Ice-Albedo Feedback on Global Sensitivity in a One-Dimensional Radiative-Convective Climate Model

Wei-Chyung WangGoddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY 10025

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Peter H. StoneDepartment of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139

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Abstract

The feedback between ice albedo and temperature is included in a one-dimensional radiative-convective climate model. The effect of this feedback on global sensitivity to changes in solar constant is studied for the current climate conditions. This ice-albedo feedback amplifies global sensitivity by 26 and 39%, respectively, for assumptions of fixed cloud altitude and fixed cloud temperature. The global sensitivity is not affected significantly if the latitudinal variations of mean solar zenith angle and cloud cover are included in the global model.

The differences in global sensitivity between one-dimensional radiative-convective models and energy balance models are examined. It is shown that the models are in close agreement when the same feedback mechanisms are included.

The one-dimensional radiative-convective model with ice-albedo feedback included is used to compute the equilibrium ice line as a function of solar constant. It is found that the fixed cloud temperature parameterization breaks down before the completely ice-covered earth instability sets in, i.e., the lowest cloud layer intersects the ground.

In addition, it is shown that the ice-albedo feedback has a similar amplification effect on the global warming caused by increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration as in the case of solar constant change.

Abstract

The feedback between ice albedo and temperature is included in a one-dimensional radiative-convective climate model. The effect of this feedback on global sensitivity to changes in solar constant is studied for the current climate conditions. This ice-albedo feedback amplifies global sensitivity by 26 and 39%, respectively, for assumptions of fixed cloud altitude and fixed cloud temperature. The global sensitivity is not affected significantly if the latitudinal variations of mean solar zenith angle and cloud cover are included in the global model.

The differences in global sensitivity between one-dimensional radiative-convective models and energy balance models are examined. It is shown that the models are in close agreement when the same feedback mechanisms are included.

The one-dimensional radiative-convective model with ice-albedo feedback included is used to compute the equilibrium ice line as a function of solar constant. It is found that the fixed cloud temperature parameterization breaks down before the completely ice-covered earth instability sets in, i.e., the lowest cloud layer intersects the ground.

In addition, it is shown that the ice-albedo feedback has a similar amplification effect on the global warming caused by increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration as in the case of solar constant change.

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