Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1946
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1946
09 Jul 2024
 | 09 Jul 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Weak surface temperature effects of recent reductions in shipping SO2 emissions, with quantification confounded by internal variability

Duncan Watson-Parris, Laura J. Wilcox, Camilla W. Stjern, Robert J. Allen, Geeta Persad, Massimo A. Bollasina, Annica M. L. Ekman, Carley E. Iles, Manoj Joshi, Marianne T. Lund, Daniel McCoy, Daniel Westervelt, Andrew Williams, and Bjørn H. Samset

Abstract. In 2020 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) implemented strict new regulations on the emissions of sulphate aerosol from the world's shipping fleet. This can be expected to lead to a reduction in aerosol-driven cooling, unmasking a portion of greenhouse gas warming. The magnitude of the effect is uncertain, however, due to the large remaining uncertainties in the climate response to aerosols. Here, we investigate this question using an 18-member ensemble of fully coupled climate simulations evenly sampling key modes of climate variability with the NCAR CESM2 model. We show that while there is a clear physical response of the climate system to the IMO regulations, including a surface temperature increase, we do not find global mean temperature influence that is significantly different from zero. The 20-year average global mean warming for 2020–2040 is +0.03 °C, with a 5–95 % confidence range of [-0.09, 0.19], reflecting the weakness of the perturbation relative to internal variability. We do, however, find a robust, non-zero regional temperature response in part of the North Atlantic. We also find that the maximum annual-mean ensemble-mean warming occurs around a decade after the perturbation in 2029, which means that the IMO regulations have likely had very limited influence on observed global warming to date. We further discuss our results in light of other, recent publications that have reached different conclusions. Overall, while the IMO regulations may contribute up to at 0.16 °C [-0.17, 0.52] to the global mean surface temperature in individual years during this decade, consistent with some early studies, such a response is unlikely to have been discernible above internal variability by the end of 2023 and is in fact consistent with zero throughout the 2020–2040 period.

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Duncan Watson-Parris, Laura J. Wilcox, Camilla W. Stjern, Robert J. Allen, Geeta Persad, Massimo A. Bollasina, Annica M. L. Ekman, Carley E. Iles, Manoj Joshi, Marianne T. Lund, Daniel McCoy, Daniel Westervelt, Andrew Williams, and Bjørn H. Samset

Status: open (until 20 Aug 2024)

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Duncan Watson-Parris, Laura J. Wilcox, Camilla W. Stjern, Robert J. Allen, Geeta Persad, Massimo A. Bollasina, Annica M. L. Ekman, Carley E. Iles, Manoj Joshi, Marianne T. Lund, Daniel McCoy, Daniel Westervelt, Andrew Williams, and Bjørn H. Samset
Duncan Watson-Parris, Laura J. Wilcox, Camilla W. Stjern, Robert J. Allen, Geeta Persad, Massimo A. Bollasina, Annica M. L. Ekman, Carley E. Iles, Manoj Joshi, Marianne T. Lund, Daniel McCoy, Daniel Westervelt, Andrew Williams, and Bjørn H. Samset

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Short summary
In 2020, regulations by the International Maritime Organization aimed to reduce aerosol emissions from ships. These aerosols previously had a cooling effect, which the regulations might reduce, revealing more greenhouse gas warming. Here we find that while there is regional warming, the global 2020–2040 temperature rise is only +0.03°C. This small change is difficult to distinguish from natural climate variability, indicating the regulations have had a limited effect on observed warming to date.