Thursday, March 23, 2006

Simulated climate change during the last 1,000 years: comparing the ECHO-G general circulation model with the MAGICC simple climate model

Timothy J. Osborn1 , Sarah C. B. Raper1, 2 and Keith R. Briffa1

(1) Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
(2) Dalton Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

Received: 24 May 2005 Accepted: 19 January 2006 Published online: 22 March 2006

Abstract An intercomparison of eight climate simulations, each driven with estimated natural and anthropogenic forcings for the last millennium, indicates that the so-called “Erik” simulation of the ECHO-G coupled ocean-atmosphere climate model exhibits atypical behaviour. The ECHO-G simulation has a much stronger cooling trend from 1000 to 1700 and a higher rate of warming since 1800 than the other simulations, with the result that the overall amplitude of millennial-scale temperature variations in the ECHO-G simulation is much greater than in the other models. The MAGICC (Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas-Induced Climate Change) simple climate model is used to investigate possible causes of this atypical behaviour. It is shown that disequilibrium in the initial conditions probably contributes spuriously to the cooling trend in the early centuries of the simulation, and that the omission of tropospheric sulphate aerosol forcing is the likely explanation for the anomalously large recent warming. The simple climate model results are used to adjust the ECHO-G Erik simulation to mitigate these effects, which brings the simulation into better agreement with the other seven models considered here and greatly reduces the overall range of temperature variations during the last millennium simulated by ECHO-G. Smaller inter-model differences remain which can probably be explained by a combination of the particular forcing histories and model sensitivities of each experiment. These have not been investigated here, though we have diagnosed the effective climate sensitivity of ECHO-G to be 2.39±0.11 K for a doubling of CO2.

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