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Aerosol contribution to the rapid warming of near-term climate under RCP 2.6

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Chalmers, N., Highwood, E. J., Hawkins, E., Sutton, R. T. and Wilcox, L. J. (2012) Aerosol contribution to the rapid warming of near-term climate under RCP 2.6. Geophysical Research Letters, 39 (18). L18709. ISSN 0094-8276

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2012GL052848

Abstract/Summary

The importance of aerosol emissions for near term climate projections is investigated by analysing simulations with the HadGEM2-ES model under two different emissions scenarios: RCP2.6 and RCP4.5. It is shown that the near term warming projected under RCP2.6 is greater than under RCP4.5, even though the greenhouse gas forcing is lower. Rapid and substantial reductions in sulphate aerosol emissions due to a reduction of coal burning in RCP2.6 lead to a reduction in the negative shortwave forcing due to aerosol direct and indirect effects. Indirect effects play an important role over the northern hemisphere oceans, especially the subtropical northeastern Pacific where an anomaly of 5-10\,Wm$^{-2}$ develops. The pattern of surface temperature change is consistent with the expected response to this surface radiation anomaly, whilst also exhibiting features that reflect redistribution of energy, and feedbacks, within the climate system. These results demonstrate the importance of aerosol emissions as a key source of uncertainty in near term projections of global and regional climate.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:29182
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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