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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 Jan 2019

Research article | 14 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Role of climate model dynamics in estimated climate responses to anthropogenic aerosols

Kalle Nordling1, Hannele Korhonen1, Petri Räisänen1, Muzaffer Ege Alper1, Petteri Uotila2, Declan O'Donnell1, and Joonas Merikanto1 Kalle Nordling et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2INAR/Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Significant discrepancies remain in estimates of climate impacts of anthropogenic aerosols between different general circulation models (GCMs). Here, we demonstrate that eliminating differences in model aerosol or radiative forcing fields results in close agreement in simulated globally averaged temperature and precipitation responses in the studied GCMs. However, it does not erase the differences in regional responses. We carry out experiments of equilibrium climate response to modern day anthropogenic aerosols using an identical representation of anthropogenic aerosol optical properties and aerosol-cloud interactions, MACv2-SP, in two independent climate models (NorESM and ECHAM6). We find consistent global average temperature responses of −0.48 K and −0.50 K and precipitation responses of −1.69 % and −1.79 % in NorESM1 and ECHAM6, respectively, compared to modern-day equilibrium climate without anthropogenic aerosols. However, significant differences remain between the two GCMs regional temperature responses around the Arctic circle and the equator and precipitation responses in the tropics. The scatter in the simulated globally averaged responses is small in magnitude when compared against literature data from modern GCMs using model intrinsic aerosols but same aerosol emissions (−(0.5–1.1) K and −(1.5–3.1) % for temperature and precipitation, respectively). The Pearson correlation of regional temperature (precipitation) response in these literature model experiments with intrinsic aerosols is 0.79 (0.34). The corresponding correlation coefficients for NorESM1 and ECHAM6 runs with identical aerosols are 0.78 (0.41). The lack of improvement in correlation coefficients between models with identical aerosols and models with intrinsic aerosols implies that the spatial distribution of regional climate responses is not improved via homogenizing the aerosol descriptions in the models. Rather, differences in the atmospheric dynamic and high latitude cloud and snow/sea ice cover responses dominate the differences in regional climate responses. Hence, further improvements in the model aerosol descriptions can be expected to have a limited value in improving our understanding of regional aerosol climate impacts, unless the dynamical cores of the climate models are improved as well.

Kalle Nordling et al.
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Kalle Nordling et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We carry out long equilibrium climate simulations with two modern climate models and show that the climate model dynamic response contributes strongly to the anthropogenic aerosol response. We demonstrate that identical aerosol descriptions do not improve climate model skill to estimate regional anthropogenic aerosol impacts. Our experiment utilized two independent climate models NorESM and ECHAM6 with an identical description for aerosols optical properties and indirect effect.
We carry out long equilibrium climate simulations with two modern climate models and show that...