Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity Estimated by Equilibrating Climate Models

Rugenstein, Maria ; Bloch-Johnson, Jonah ; Gregory, Jonathan ; Andrews, Timothy ; Mauritsen, Thorsten ; Li, Chao ; Frölicher, Thomas L. ; Paynter, David ; Danabasoglu, Gokhan ; Yang, Shuting ; Dufresne, Jean-Louis ; Cao, Long ; Schmidt, Gavin A. ; Abe-Ouchi, Ayako ; Geoffroy, Olivier ; Knutti, Reto

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The methods to quantify equilibrium climate sensitivity are still debated. We collect millennial-length simulations of coupled climate models and show that the global mean equilibrium warming is higher than those obtained using extrapolation methods from shorter simulations. Specifically, 27 simulations with 15 climate models forced with a range of CO2 concentrations show a median 17% larger equilibrium warming than estimated from the first 150 years of the simulations. The spatial patterns of radiative feedbacks change continuously, in most regions reducing their tendency to stabilizing the climate. In the equatorial Pacific, however, feedbacks become more stabilizing with time. The global feedback evolution is initially dominated by the tropics, with eventual substantial contributions from the mid-latitudes. Time-dependent feedbacks underscore the need of a measure of climate sensitivity that accounts for the degree of equilibration, so that models, observations, and paleo proxies can be adequately compared and aggregated to estimate future warming.</p>

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