The Impact of Recent Forcing and Ocean Heat Uptake Data on Estimates of Climate Sensitivity

Nicholas Lewis, Judith Curry
2018 Journal of Climate  
Energy budget estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and transient climate response (TCR) are derived based on the best estimates and uncertainty ranges for forcing provided in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Scientific Report (AR5). Recent revisions to greenhouse gas forcing and post-1990 ozone and aerosol forcing estimates are incorporated and the forcing data extended from 2011 to 2016. Reflecting recent evidence against strong aerosol forcing, its AR5 uncertainty lower bound is
more » ... wer bound is increased slightly. Using a 1869-1882 base period and a 2007−2016 final period, which are well-matched for volcanic activity and influence from internal variability, medians are derived for ECS of 1.50 K (5−95%: 1.05−2.45 K) and for TCR of 1.20 K (5−95%: 0.9−1.7 K). These estimates both have much lower upper bounds than those from a predecessor study using AR5 data ending in 2011. Using infilled, globally-complete temperature data gives slightly higher estimates; a median of 1.66 K for ECS (5−95%: 1.15−2.7 K) and 1.33 K for TCR (5−95%:1.0−1.90 K). These ECS estimates reflect climate feedbacks over the historical period, assumed time-invariant. Allowing for possible time-varying climate feedbacks increases the median ECS estimate to 1.76 K (5−95%: 1.2−3.1 K), using infilled temperature data. Possible biases from non-unit forcing efficacy, temperature estimation issues and variability in sea-surface temperature change patterns are examined and found to be minor when using globally-complete temperature data. These results imply that high ECS and TCR values derived from a majority of CMIP5 climate models are inconsistent with observed warming during the historical period. 3
doi:10.1175/jcli-d-17-0667.1 fatcat:ygsmwvenbbfizaifbthnoanyji