Projections of the pace of warming following an abrupt increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration
Abstract
The temperature response of atmosphereocean climate models is analyzed based on atmospheric CO_{2} stepfunctionchange simulations submitted to phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). From these simulations and a control simulation, we estimate adjusted radiative forcing, the climate feedback parameter, and effective climate system thermal inertia, and we show that these results can be used to predict the temperature response to timevarying CO_{2} concentrations. We evaluate several kinds of simple mathematical models for the CMIP5 simulation results, including single and multipleexponential models and a onedimensional oceandiffusion model. All of these functional forms, except the singleexponential model, can produce curves that fit most CMIP5 results quite well for both continuous and stepfunction CO_{2}change pathways. Choice of model for any particular application would include consideration of factors such as the number of free parameters to be constrained and the conception of the underlying mechanistic model. Smooth curve fits to the CMIP5 simulation results realize approximately half (range 38%61%) of equilibrium warming within the first decade after a CO_{2} concentration increase, but approximately one quarter (range 14%40%) of equilibrium warming occurs more than a century after the CO_{2} increase. Following an instantaneous quadrupling of atmospheric CO_{2}, fits to four of the 20 simulation results reach 4 ° C of warming within the first decade, but fits to three of the 20 simulation results require more than a century to reach 4 ° C. These results indicate the need to reduce uncertainty in the temporal response of climate models and to consider this uncertainty when evaluating the risks posed by climate change.
 Publication:

Environmental Research Letters
 Pub Date:
 September 2013
 DOI:
 10.1088/17489326/8/3/034039
 Bibcode:
 2013ERL.....8c4039C