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Towards constraining climate sensitivity by linear analysis of feedback patterns in thousands of perturbed-physics GCM simulations

By Benjamin M. Sanderson, C. Piani, W. J. Ingram, D. A. Stone and M. R. Allen

Abstract

A linear analysis is applied to a multi-thousand member "perturbed physics" GCM ensemble to identify the dominant physical processes responsible for variation in climate sensitivity across the ensemble. Model simulations are provided by the distributed computing project, climate prediction.net. A principal component analysis of model radiative response reveals two dominant independent feedback processes, each largely controlled by a single parameter change. The leading EOF was well correlated with the value of the entrainment coefficient - a parameter in the model's atmospheric convection scheme. Reducing this parameter increaes high vertical level moisture causing an enhanced clear sky greenhouse effect both in the control simulation and in the response to greenhouse gas forcing. This effect is compensated by an increase in reflected solar radiation from low level cloud upon warming. A set of 'secondary' cloud formation parameters partly modulate the degree of shortwave compensation from low cloud formation. The second EOF was correlated with the scaling of ice fall speed in clouds which affects the extent of cloud cover in the control simulation. The most prominent feature in the EOF was an increase in longwave cloud forcing. The two leading EOFs account for 70% of the ensemble variance in λ - the global feedback parameter. Linear predictors of feedback strength from model climatology are applied to observational datasets to estimate real world values of the overall climate feedback parameter. The predictors are found using correlations across the ensemble. Differences between predictions are largely due to the differences in observational estimates for top of atmosphere shortwave fluxes. Our validation does not rule out all the strong topical convective feedbacks leading to a large climate sensitivity.The full-text of this article is not currently available in ORA, but the original publication is available at springerlink.com (which you may be able to access via the publisher copy link on this record page). Citation: Sanderson, B. M. et al. (2008). 'Towards constraining climate sensitivity by linear analysis of feedback patterns in thousands of perturbed-physics GCM simulations', Climate Dynamics 30(2-3), 175-190

Topics: Physics, Atmospheric,Oceanic,and Planetary physics, Environment, Climate systems and policy, climate change
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s00382-007-0280-7
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