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Does shortwave absorption by methane influence its effectiveness?

Modak, Angshuman and Bala, Govindasamy and Caldeira, Ken and Cao, Long (2018) Does shortwave absorption by methane influence its effectiveness? In: CLIMATE DYNAMICS, 51 (9-10). pp. 3653-3672.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00382-018-4102-x

Abstract

In this study, using idealized step-forcing simulations, we examine the effective radiative forcing of CH4 relative to that of CO2 and compare the effects of CH4 and CO2 forcing on the climate system. A tenfold increase in CH4 concentration in the NCAR CAM5 climate model produces similar long term global mean surface warming (similar to 1.7 K) as a one-third increase in CO2 concentration. However, the radiative forcing estimated for CO2 using the prescribed-SST method is similar to 81% that of CH4, indicating that the efficacy of CH4 forcing is similar to 0.81. This estimate is nearly unchanged when the CO2 physiological effect is included in our simulations. Further, for the same long-term global mean surface warming, we simulate a smaller precipitation increase in the CH4 case compared to the CO2 case. This is because of the fast adjustment processesprecipitation reduction in the CH4 case is larger than that of the CO2 case. This is associated with a relatively more stable atmosphere and larger atmospheric radiative forcing in the CH4 case which occurs because of near-infrared absorption by CH4 in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Within a month after an increase in CH4, this shortwave heating results in a temperature increase of similar to 0.8 K in the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere. In contrast, within a month after a CO2 increase, longwave cooling results in a temperature decrease of similar to 3 K in the stratosphere and a small change in the upper troposphere. These fast adjustments in the lower stratospheric and upper tropospheric temperature, along with the adjustments in clouds in the troposphere, influence the effective radiative forcing and the fast precipitation response. These differences in fast climate adjustments also produce differences in the climate states from which the slow response begins to evolve and hence they are likely associated with differing feedbacks. We also find that the tropics and subtropics are relatively warmer in the CH4 case for the same global mean surface warming because of a larger longwave clear-sky and shortwave cloud forcing over these regions in the CH4 case. Further investigation using a multi-model intercomparison framework would permit an assessment of the robustness of our results.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belong to SPRINGER
Keywords: Methane; Radiative forcing; Efficacy; Climate feedback; Fast cloud adjustments; Hydrological cycle
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Centre for Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2018 15:32
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2018 04:51
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/60975

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