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Climate models without pre-industrial volcanic forcing underestimate historical ocean thermal expansion

Gregory, J. M., Bi, D., Collier, M. A., Dix, M. R., Hirst, A. C., Hu, A., Huber, M., Knutti, R., Marsland, S. J., Meinshausen, M., Rashid, H. A., Rotstayn, L. D., Schurer, A. and Church, J. A. (2013) Climate models without pre-industrial volcanic forcing underestimate historical ocean thermal expansion. Geophysical Research Letters, 40 (8). pp. 1600-1604. ISSN 0094-8276

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/grl.50339

Abstract/Summary

Episodic explosive volcanic eruptions are a natural part of the climate system but are often omitted from atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (AOGCM) preindustrial spin-up and control experiments. This omission imposes a negative bias on ocean heat uptake in simulations of the historical period. In models of a range of complexity, we find that global-mean sea level rise due to thermal expansion during the last ∼ 150 years is consequently underestimated by 5–30 mm, which is a substantial proportion of the model mean of 50 mm in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 AOGCMs with anthropogenic forcing only, and is therefore important in accounting for 20th century sea level rise. We test and recommend a procedure for removing the bias.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:38331
Uncontrolled Keywords:volcano; ocean heat content; climate change; sea level rise
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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