Identifying uncertainties in Arctic climate change projections
Hodson, D. L. R., Keeley, S. P. E., West, A., Ridley, J., Hawkins, E. and Hewitt, H. T. (2013) Identifying uncertainties in Arctic climate change projections. Climate Dynamics, 40 (11-12). pp. 2849-2865. ISSN 1432-0894
To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s00382-012-1512-z
Wide ranging climate changes are expected in the Arctic by the end of the 21st century, but projections of the size of these changes vary widely across current global climate models. This variation represents a large source of uncertainty in our understanding of the evolution of Arctic climate. Here we systematically quantify and assess the model uncertainty in Arctic climate changes in two CO2 doubling experiments: a multimodel ensemble (CMIP3) and an ensemble constructed using a single model (HadCM3) with multiple parameter perturbations (THC-QUMP). These two ensembles allow us to assess the contribution that both structural and parameter variations across models make to the total uncertainty and to begin to attribute sources of uncertainty in projected changes. We find that parameter uncertainty is an major source of uncertainty in certain aspects of Arctic climate. But also that uncertainties in the mean climate state in the 20th century, most notably in the northward Atlantic ocean heat transport and Arctic sea ice volume, are a significant source of uncertainty for projections of future Arctic change. We suggest that better observational constraints on these quantities will lead to significant improvements in the precision of projections of future Arctic climate change.