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Tuning the MPI-ESM1.2 global climate model to improve the match with instrumental record warming by lowering its climate sensitivity

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Roeckner,  Erich
The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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2019MS002037.pdf
(Publisher version), 2MB

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jame21113-sup-0001-text_si-s01.pdf
(Supplementary material), 2MB

Citation

Mauritsen, T., & Roeckner, E. (2020). Tuning the MPI-ESM1.2 global climate model to improve the match with instrumental record warming by lowering its climate sensitivity. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 12: e2019MS002037. doi:10.1029/2019MS002037.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-7E9B-F
Abstract
A climate model's ability to reproduce observed historical warming is sometimes viewed as a measure of quality. Yet, for practical reasons it cannot be considered a purely empirical result of the modeling efforts because the desired result is known in advance and so is a potential target of tuning. Here we report how the latest edition of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology Earth System Models (MPI-ESM1.2) atmospheric component (ECHAM6.3) had its sensitivity systematically tuned in order to improve the modeled match with the instrumental record. In practice, this was done by targeting an equilibrium climate sensitivity of about 3 K, slightly lower than in the previous model generation (MPI-ESM), which warmed more than observed, and in particular by addressing a climate sensitivity of about 7 K in an intermediate version of the model. In the process we identified several controls on cloud feedback, some of which confirm recently proposed hypotheses. We find the model exhibits excellent fidelity with the observed centennial global warming. We further find that an alternative approach with high climate sensitivity compensated by strong aerosol cooling instead would yield colder than observed results in the second half of the twentieth century. ©2020. The Authors.