Climate Sensitivity and Feedbacks of BCC-CSM to Idealized CO2 Forcing from CMIP5 to CMIP6


  • Climate sensitivity represents the response of climate system to doubled CO2 concentration relative to the preindustrial level, which is one of the sources of uncertainty in climate projections. It is unclear how the climate sensitivity and feedbacks will change as a model system is upgraded from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) to CMIP6. In this paper, we address this issue by comparing two versions of the Beijing Climate Center Climate System Model (BCC-CSM) participating in CMIP6 and CMIP5, i.e., BCC-CSM2-MR and BCC-CSM1.1m, which have the same horizontal resolution but different physical parameterizations. The results show that the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) of BCC-CSM slightly increases from CMIP5 (2.94 K) to CMIP6 (3.04 K). The small changes in the ECS result from compensation between decreased effective radiative forcing (ERF) and the increased net feedback. In contrast, the transient climate response (TCR) evidently decreases from 2.19 to 1.40 K, nearly the lower bound of the CMIP6 multimodel spread. The low TCR in BCC-CSM2-MR is mainly caused by the small ERF overly even though the ocean heat uptake (OHU) efficiency is substantially improved from that in BCC-CSM1.1m. Cloud shortwave feedback (λSWCL) is found to be the major cause of the increased net feedback in BCC-CSM2-MR, mainly over the Southern Ocean. The strong positive λSWCL in BCC-CSM2-MR is coincidently related to the weakened sea ice-albedo feedback in the same region. This result is caused by reduced sea ice coverage simulated during the preindustrial cold season, which leads to reduced melting per 1-K global warming. As a result, in BCC-CSM2-MR, reduced surface heat flux and strengthened static stability of the planetary boundary layer cause a decrease in low-level clouds and an increase in incident shortwave radiation. This study reveals the important compensation between λSWCL and sea ice-albedo feedback in the Southern Ocean.
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