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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
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Research article 24 Jan 2018

Research article | 24 Jan 2018

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

Rapid and reliable assessment of methane impacts on climate

Ilissa B. Ocko1, Vaishali Naik2, and David Paynter2 Ilissa B. Ocko et al.
  • 1Environmental Defense Fund, Washington DC, 20009, USA
  • 2NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, 08540, USA

Abstract. It is clear that the most effective way to limit global temperature rise and associated impacts is to reduce human emissions of greenhouse gases, including methane. However, quantification of the climate benefits of mitigation options are complicated by the contrast in the timescales at which short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane, persist in the atmosphere as compared to carbon dioxide. Whereas simple metrics fail to capture the differential impacts across all timescales, sophisticated climate models that can address these temporal dynamics are often inaccessible, time-intensive, and require special infrastructure. Reduced-complexity models offer an ideal compromise in that they provide quick, reliable insights into the benefits across types of climate pollutants using basic knowledge and limited computational infrastructure. In this paper, we build on previous evaluations of the freely-available and easy-to-run reduced-complexity climate model MAGICC by confirming its ability to reproduce temperature responses to historical methane emissions. By comparing MAGICC model results to those from the reference GFDL CM3 coupled global chemistry-climate model, we build confidence in using MAGICC for purposes of understanding the climate implications of methane mitigation. MAGICC can easily and rapidly provide robust data on climate responses to changes in methane emissions.

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Ilissa B. Ocko et al.
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Ilissa B. Ocko et al.
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Short summary
As communities worldwide analyze options to reduce methane emissions from energy use, agriculture, and waste management, there is an immediate need to build confidence in rapid assessment tools other than standard climate metrics – which misrepresent impacts over all timescales. In this paper, we show that a simplified climate model can easily and rapidly provide scientifically robust climate responses to changes in methane emissions, thereby improving mitigation analysis and decision-making.
As communities worldwide analyze options to reduce methane emissions from energy use,...