19 Apr 2022
19 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Potential for bias in effective climate sensitivity from state-dependent energetic balance

Benjamin Sanderson1 and Maria Rugenstein2 Benjamin Sanderson and Maria Rugenstein
  • 1CICERO, Oslo, Norway
  • 2Colorado State University, Fort Collins CO, USA

Abstract. To estimate equilibrium climate sensitivity, a common approach is to linearly extrapolate temperatures as a function of top of atmosphere energetic imbalance (Effective Climate Sensitivity). In this study, we consider an alternative approach for estimating equilibrium climate sensitivity through Bayesian calibration of a multiple timescale simple climate model. Results suggest potential biases in effective sensitivity estimates in the case of particular models where radiative tendencies imply energetic imbalances which differ between pre-industrial and quadrupled CO2 states. These biases imply the need for reconsideration of some model published values of climate sensitivity, and the presence of radiative imbalances in a number of CMIP5 and CMIP6 models underlines the urgent requirement for operational climate sensitivity experiments on millennial timescales to assess if such biases exist in estimates of climate sensitivity in the wider CMIP ensembles.

Benjamin Sanderson and Maria Rugenstein

Status: open (until 16 Jun 2022)

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Benjamin Sanderson and Maria Rugenstein

Model code and software

Code for EGUSPHERE-2022-167 Benjamin Sanderson

Benjamin Sanderson and Maria Rugenstein


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Short summary
Equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) is a measure of how much long term warming should be expected in response to a change in greenhouse gas concentrations. It is generally calculated in climate models by extrapolating global average temperatures to a point of where the planet is no longer a net absorber of energy. Here we show that some climate models experience energy leaks which change as the planet warms, undermining the standard approach and biasing some existing model estimates of ECS.