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The use of land-sea warming contrast under climate change to improve impact metrics

Joshi, M., Turner, A. G. and Hope, C. (2013) The use of land-sea warming contrast under climate change to improve impact metrics. Climatic Change, 117 (4). pp. 951-960. ISSN 0165-0009

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10584-013-0715-6

Abstract/Summary

A favoured method of assimilating information from state-of-the-art climate models into integrated assessment models of climate impacts is to use the transient climate response (TCR) of the climate models as an input, sometimes accompanied by a pattern matching approach to provide spatial information. More recent approaches to the problem use TCR with another independent piece of climate model output: the land-sea surface warming ratio (φ). In this paper we show why the use of φ in addition to TCR has such utility. Multiple linear regressions of surface temperature change onto TCR and φ in 22 climate models from the CMIP3 multi-model database show that the inclusion of φ explains a much greater fraction of the inter-model variance than using TCR alone. The improvement is particularly pronounced in North America and Eurasia in the boreal summer season, and in the Amazon all year round. The use of φ as the second metric is beneficial for three reasons: firstly it is uncorrelated with TCR in state-of-the-art climate models and can therefore be considered as an independent metric; secondly, because of its projected time-invariance, the magnitude of φ is better constrained than TCR in the immediate future; thirdly, the use of two variables is much simpler than approaches such as pattern scaling from climate models. Finally we show how using the latest estimates of φ from climate models with a mean value of 1.6—as opposed to previously reported values of 1.4—can significantly increase the mean time-integrated discounted damage projections in a state-of-the-art integrated assessment model by about 15 %. When compared to damages calculated without the inclusion of the land-sea warming ratio, this figure rises to 65 %, equivalent to almost 200 trillion dollars over 200 years.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:31021
Publisher:Springer

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