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Climate sensitivity increases under higher CO₂ levels due to feedback temperature dependence

Bloch-Johnson, J. ORCID:, Rugenstein, M., Stolpe, M. B., Rohrschneider, T., Zheng, Y. and Gregory, J. M. (2021) Climate sensitivity increases under higher CO₂ levels due to feedback temperature dependence. Geophysical Research Letters, 48 (4). e2020GL089074. ISSN 0094-8276

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2020GL089074


Equilibrium climate sensitivity‐the equilibrium warming per CO2 doubling‐increases with CO2 concentration for 13 of 14 coupled general circulation models for 0.5–8 times the preindustrial concentration. In particular, the abrupt 4 × CO2 equilibrium warming is more than twice the 2 × CO2 warming. We identify three potential causes: nonlogarithmic forcing, feedback CO2 dependence, and feedback temperature dependence. Feedback temperature dependence explains at least half of the sensitivity increase, while feedback CO2 dependence explains a smaller share, and nonlogarithmic forcing decreases sensitivity in as many models as it increases it. Feedback temperature dependence is positive for 10 out of 14 models, primarily due to the longwave clear‐sky feedback, while cloud feedbacks drive particularly large sensitivity increases. Feedback temperature dependence increases the risk of extreme or runaway warming, and is estimated to cause six models to warm at least an additional 3K under 8 × CO2.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:97773
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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