IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis Implications for Range in Climate Response

The results from RTMIP imply that the spread in climate response discussed in this chapter is due in part to the diverse representations of radiative transfer among the members of the multi-model ensemble. Even if the concentrations of LLGHGs were identical across the ensemble, differences in radiative transfer parametrizations among the ensemble members would lead to different estimates of radiative forcing by these species. Many of the climate responses (e.g., global mean temperature) scale linearly with the radiative forcing to first approximation. Therefore, systematic errors in the calculations of radiative forcing should produce a corresponding range in climate responses. Assuming that the RTMIP results (Table 10.3) are globally applicable, the range of forcings for 1860 to 2000 in the AOGCMs should introduce a ±18% relative range (the 5 to 95% confidence interval) for 2000 in the responses that scale with forcing. The corresponding relative range for doubled atmospheric CO2, which is comparable to the change in CO2 in the B1 scenario by 2100, is ± 25%.

10.2.2 Recent Developments in Projections of Radiative Species and Forcing for the 21st Century

Estimation of ozone forcing for the 21st century is complicated by the short chemical lifetime of ozone compared to atmospheric transport time scales and by the sensitivity of the radiative forcing to the vertical distribution of ozone. Gauss et al. (2003) calculate the forcing by anthropogenic increases of tropospheric ozone through 2100 from 11 different chemical transport models integrated with the SRES A2p scenario. The A2p scenario is the preliminary version of the marker A2 scenario and has nearly identical time series of LLGHGs and forcing. Since the emissions of CH4, carbon monoxide (CO), reactive nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which strongly affect the formation of ozone, are maximised in the A2p scenario, the modelled forcings should represent an upper bound for the forcing produced under more constrained emissions scenarios. The 11 models simulate an increase in tropospheric ozone of 11.4 to 20.5 Dobson units (DU) by 2100, corresponding to a range of radiative forcing from 0.40 to 0.78 W m–2. Under this scenario, stratospheric ozone increases by between 7.5 and 9.3 DU, which raises the radiative forcing by an additional 0.15 to 0.17 W m–2.

One aspect of future direct aerosol radiative forcing omitted from all but 2 (the GISS-EH and GISS-ER models) of the 23 AOGCMS analysed in AR4 (see Table 8.1 for list) is the role of nitrate aerosols. Rapid increases in NOx emissions could produce enough nitrate aerosol to offset the expected decline in sulphate forcing by 2100. Adams et al. (2001) compute the radiative forcing by sulphate and nitrate accounting for the interactions among sulphate, nitrate and ammonia. For 2000, the sulphate and nitrate forcing are –0.95 and –0.19 W m–2, respectively. Under the SRES A2 scenario, by 2100 declining SO2 emissions cause the sulphate forcing to drop to –0.85 W m–2, while the nitrate forcing rises to –1.28 W m–2. Hence, the total sulphate-nitrate forcing increases in magnitude from –1.14 W m–2 to –2.13 W m–2 rather than declining as models that omit nitrates would suggest. This projection is consistent with the large increase in coal burning forecast as part of the A2 scenario.

Recent field programs focused on Asian aerosols have demonstrated the importance of black carbon (BC) and organic carbon (OC) for regional climate, including potentially significant perturbations of the surface energy budget and hydrological cycle (Ramanathan et al., 2001). Modelling groups have developed a multiplicity of projections for the concentrations of these aerosol species. For example, Takemura et al. (2001) use data sets for BC released by fossil fuel and biomass burning (Cooke and Wilson, 1996) under current conditions and scale them by the ratio of future to present-day CO2. The emissions of OC are derived using OC:BC ratios estimated for each source and fuel type. Koch (2001) models the future radiative forcing of BC by scaling a different set of present-day emission inventories by the ratio of future to present-day CO2 emissions. There are still large uncertainties associated with current inventories of BC and OC (Bond et al., 2004), the ad hoc scaling methods used to produce future emissions, and considerable variation among estimates of the optical properties of carbonaceous aerosols (Kinne et al., 2006). Given these uncertainties, future projections of forcing by BC and OC should be quite model dependent.

Recent evidence suggests that there are detectable anthropogenic increases in stratospheric sulphate (e.g., Myhre et al., 2004), water vapour (e.g., Forster and Shine, 2002), and condensed water in the form of aircraft contrails. However, recent modelling studies suggest that these forcings are relatively minor compared to the major LLGHGs and aerosol species. Marquart et al. (2003) estimate that the radiative forcing by contrails will increase from 0.035 W m–2 in 1992 to 0.094 W m–2 in 2015 and to 0.148 W m–2 in 2050. The rise in forcing is due to an increase in subsonic aircraft traffic following estimates of future fuel consumption (Penner et al., 1999). These estimates are still subject to considerable uncertainties related to poor constraints on the microphysical properties, optical depths and diurnal cycle of contrails (Myhre and Stordal, 2001, 2002; Marquart et al., 2003). Pitari et al. (2002) examine the effect of future emissions under the A2 scenario on stratospheric concentrations of sulphate aerosol and ozone. By 2030, the mass of stratospheric sulphate increases by approximately 33%, with the majority of the increase contributed by enhanced upward fluxes of anthropogenic SO2 through the tropopause. The increase in direct shortwave forcing by stratospheric aerosols in the A2 scenario during 2000 to 2030 is –0.06 W m–2.

Some recent studies have suggested that the global atmospheric burden of soil dust aerosols could decrease by between 20 and 60% due to reductions in desert areas associated with climate change (Mahowald and Luo, 2003). Tegen et al. (2004a,b) compared simulations by the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts/Max Planck Institute for Meteorology Atmospheric GCM (ECHAM4) and UKMO-HadCM3 that included the effects of climate-induced changes in atmospheric conditions and vegetation cover and the effects of increased CO2 concentrations on vegetation density. These simulations are forced with identical (IS92a) time series for LLGHGs. Their findings suggest that future projections of changes in dust loading are quite model dependent, since the net changes in global atmospheric dust loading produced by the two models have opposite signs. They also conclude that dust from agriculturally disturbed soils is less than 10% of the current burden, and that climate-induced changes in dust concentrations would dominate land use changes under both minimum and maximum estimates of increased agricultural area by 2050.