Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-2030
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-2030
09 Jul 2024
 | 09 Jul 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

The aerosol pathway is crucial for observationally constrained climate sensitivity and anthropogenic forcing

Ragnhild Bieltvedt Skeie, Magne Aldrin, Terje K. Berntsen, Marit Holden, Ragnar Bang Huseby, Gunnar Myhre, and Trude Storelvmo

Abstract. Climate sensitivity and aerosol forcing are two of the most central, but uncertain, quantities in climate science that are crucial for assessing historical climate as well as future climate predictions. Here, we use a Bayesian approach to estimate the inferred climate sensitivity and aerosol forcing using observations of temperature and global ocean heat content and prior knowledge of effective radiative forcing (ERF) over the industrial period. Due to limited information on uncertainties related to the time evolution of aerosol forcing, we perform a range of sensitivity analyses with idealized aerosol time evolution. The estimates are sensitive to the aerosol forcing pathway with the mean estimate of inferred climate sensitivity ranging from 2.0 to 2.4 K, present-day (2019 relative to 1750) aerosol ERF ranging from -0.7 to -1.1 W m-2 and anthropogenic ERF ranging from 2.6 to 3.1 W m-2. Using observations and forcing up to and including 2022, the inferred effective climate sensitivity is 2.2 K with a 1.6 to 3.0 K 90 % uncertainty range. Analysis with more freely evolving aerosol forcing between 1950 and 2014 shows a strong negative aerosol forcing trend in the latter part of the 20th century that is not consistent with observations. Although we test our estimation method with strongly idealized aerosol ERF pathways, our posteriori estimates of the climate sensitivities end up in the weaker end of the range assessed in the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6). As our method only includes climate feedbacks that have occurred over the historical period, it does not include the pattern effect, i.e. where climate feedbacks are dependent on the pattern of warming which will likely change into the future. Adding the best estimate of the pattern effect from IPCC AR6, our climate sensitivity estimate is almost identical to the IPCC AR6 best estimate and very likely range.

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Ragnhild Bieltvedt Skeie, Magne Aldrin, Terje K. Berntsen, Marit Holden, Ragnar Bang Huseby, Gunnar Myhre, and Trude Storelvmo

Status: open (until 29 Aug 2024)

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Ragnhild Bieltvedt Skeie, Magne Aldrin, Terje K. Berntsen, Marit Holden, Ragnar Bang Huseby, Gunnar Myhre, and Trude Storelvmo
Ragnhild Bieltvedt Skeie, Magne Aldrin, Terje K. Berntsen, Marit Holden, Ragnar Bang Huseby, Gunnar Myhre, and Trude Storelvmo

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Short summary
Climate sensitivity and aerosol forcing are central quantities in climate science, uncertain and contribute to the spread in climate predictions. To constrain these, we use observations of temperature and ocean heat content and prior knowledge of radiative forcings over the industrialized period. The estimates are sensitive to how the aerosol cooling has evolved over the latter part of the 20th century, and a strong aerosol forcing trend in the 1960s–1970s is not supported by our analysis.