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Design and analysis of climate model experiments for the efficient estimation of anthropogenic signals

Sexton, D. M. H., Grubb, H., Shine, K. P. and Folland, C. K. (2003) Design and analysis of climate model experiments for the efficient estimation of anthropogenic signals. Journal of Climate, 16 (9). pp. 1320-1336. ISSN 1520-0442

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Presented herein is an experimental design that allows the effects of several radiative forcing factors on climate to be estimated as precisely as possible from a limited suite of atmosphere-only general circulation model (GCM) integrations. The forcings include the combined effect of observed changes in sea surface temperatures, sea ice extent, stratospheric (volcanic) aerosols, and solar output, plus the individual effects of several anthropogenic forcings. A single linear statistical model is used to estimate the forcing effects, each of which is represented by its global mean radiative forcing. The strong colinearity in time between the various anthropogenic forcings provides a technical problem that is overcome through the design of the experiment. This design uses every combination of anthropogenic forcing rather than having a few highly replicated ensembles, which is more commonly used in climate studies. Not only is this design highly efficient for a given number of integrations, but it also allows the estimation of (nonadditive) interactions between pairs of anthropogenic forcings. The simulated land surface air temperature changes since 1871 have been analyzed. The changes in natural and oceanic forcing, which itself contains some forcing from anthropogenic and natural influences, have the most influence. For the global mean, increasing greenhouse gases and the indirect aerosol effect had the largest anthropogenic effects. It was also found that an interaction between these two anthropogenic effects in the atmosphere-only GCM exists. This interaction is similar in magnitude to the individual effects of changing tropospheric and stratospheric ozone concentrations or to the direct (sulfate) aerosol effect. Various diagnostics are used to evaluate the fit of the statistical model. For the global mean, this shows that the land temperature response is proportional to the global mean radiative forcing, reinforcing the use of radiative forcing as a measure of climate change. The diagnostic tests also show that the linear model was suitable for analyses of land surface air temperature at each GCM grid point. Therefore, the linear model provides precise estimates of the space time signals for all forcing factors under consideration. For simulated 50-hPa temperatures, results show that tropospheric ozone increases have contributed to stratospheric cooling over the twentieth century almost as much as changes in well-mixed greenhouse gases.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:10869
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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