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Sensitivity of global warming to carbon emissions: effects of heat and carbon uptake in a suite of Earth system models

Sensitivity of global warming to carbon emissions: effects of heat and carbon uptake in a suite of Earth system models
Sensitivity of global warming to carbon emissions: effects of heat and carbon uptake in a suite of Earth system models
Climate projections reveal global-mean surface warming increasing nearly linearly with cumulative carbon emissions. The sensitivity of surface warming to carbon emissions is interpreted in terms of a product of three
terms: the dependence of surface warming on radiative forcing, the fractional radiative forcing from CO2 and the dependence of radiative forcing from CO2 on carbon emissions. Mechanistically each term varies, respectively, with climate sensitivity and ocean heat uptake, radiative forcing contributions, and ocean and
terrestrial carbon uptake. The sensitivity of surface warming to fossil-fuel carbon emissions is examined using an ensemble of Earth system models, forced either by an annual increase in atmospheric CO2 or by RCP pathways until year 2100. The sensitivity of surface warming to carbon emissions is controlled by a
temporal decrease in the dependence of radiative forcing from CO2 on carbon emissions, which is partly offset by a temporal increase in the dependence of surface warming on radiative forcing: the decrease in the dependence of radiative forcing from CO2 is due to a decline in the ratio of the global ocean carbon undersaturation to carbon emissions, while the increase in the dependence of surface warming is due to a decline in the ratio of ocean heat uptake to radiative forcing. At the present time, there are large inter-model differences in the sensitivity in surface warming to carbon emissions, which are mainly due to uncertainties in the climate sensitivity and ocean heat uptake. These uncertainties undermine our ability to predict how much carbon may be emitted before reaching a warming target.
0894-8755
9343-9363
Williams, Richard G.
2155309e-1c07-4365-b46a-04baeb2fb63c
Roussenov, Vassil
40e16d5d-52db-4b90-a42d-f1d234aed477
Goodwin, Philip
87dbb154-5c39-473a-8121-c794487ee1fd
Resplandy, Laure
9f54d573-1ff1-4109-84a0-825d5d432111
Bopp, Laurent
54279526-69f5-42bb-863c-afc2bb6073e8
Williams, Richard G.
2155309e-1c07-4365-b46a-04baeb2fb63c
Roussenov, Vassil
40e16d5d-52db-4b90-a42d-f1d234aed477
Goodwin, Philip
87dbb154-5c39-473a-8121-c794487ee1fd
Resplandy, Laure
9f54d573-1ff1-4109-84a0-825d5d432111
Bopp, Laurent
54279526-69f5-42bb-863c-afc2bb6073e8

Williams, Richard G., Roussenov, Vassil, Goodwin, Philip, Resplandy, Laure and Bopp, Laurent (2017) Sensitivity of global warming to carbon emissions: effects of heat and carbon uptake in a suite of Earth system models. Journal of Climate, 30 (23), 9343-9363. (doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0468.1).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Climate projections reveal global-mean surface warming increasing nearly linearly with cumulative carbon emissions. The sensitivity of surface warming to carbon emissions is interpreted in terms of a product of three
terms: the dependence of surface warming on radiative forcing, the fractional radiative forcing from CO2 and the dependence of radiative forcing from CO2 on carbon emissions. Mechanistically each term varies, respectively, with climate sensitivity and ocean heat uptake, radiative forcing contributions, and ocean and
terrestrial carbon uptake. The sensitivity of surface warming to fossil-fuel carbon emissions is examined using an ensemble of Earth system models, forced either by an annual increase in atmospheric CO2 or by RCP pathways until year 2100. The sensitivity of surface warming to carbon emissions is controlled by a
temporal decrease in the dependence of radiative forcing from CO2 on carbon emissions, which is partly offset by a temporal increase in the dependence of surface warming on radiative forcing: the decrease in the dependence of radiative forcing from CO2 is due to a decline in the ratio of the global ocean carbon undersaturation to carbon emissions, while the increase in the dependence of surface warming is due to a decline in the ratio of ocean heat uptake to radiative forcing. At the present time, there are large inter-model differences in the sensitivity in surface warming to carbon emissions, which are mainly due to uncertainties in the climate sensitivity and ocean heat uptake. These uncertainties undermine our ability to predict how much carbon may be emitted before reaching a warming target.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 17 August 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 31 October 2017
Published date: 1 December 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 414343
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/414343
ISSN: 0894-8755
PURE UUID: 4af2912f-8c69-4a57-b294-56eeeafb22a9
ORCID for Philip Goodwin: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2575-8948

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Date deposited: 26 Sep 2017 16:30
Last modified: 01 Apr 2022 01:44

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Contributors

Author: Richard G. Williams
Author: Vassil Roussenov
Author: Philip Goodwin ORCID iD
Author: Laure Resplandy
Author: Laurent Bopp

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