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Journal Article

Transient response to well-mixed greenhouse gas changes

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Bordi, I., Fraedrich, K. F., Sutera, A., & Zhu, X. (2012). Transient response to well-mixed greenhouse gas changes. THEORETICAL AND APPLIED CLIMATOLOGY, 109(1-2), 245-252. doi:10.1007/s00704-011-0580-z.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0017-C5EB-9
A change in CO2 concentration induces a direct radiative forcing that modifies the planetary thermodynamic state, and hence the surface temperature. The infrared cooling, by assuming a constant temperature lapse-rate during the process, will be related to the surface temperature through the Stefan-Boltzmann law in a ratio proportional to the new infrared opacity. Other indirect effects, such as the water vapor and ice-albedo feedbacks, may amplify the system response. In the present paper, we address the question of how a global climate model with a mixed layer ocean responds to different rates of change of a well-mixed greenhouse gas such as CO2. We provide evidence that different rates of CO2 variation may lead to similar transient climates characterized by the same global mean surface temperature but different values of CO2 concentration. Moreover, it is shown that, far from the bifurcation points, the model's climate depends on the history of the radiative forcing displaying a hysteresis cycle that is neither static nor dynamical, but is related to the memory response of the model. Results are supported by the solutions of a zero-dimensional energy balance model.