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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 25 Jan 2020

Submitted as: data description paper | 25 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Radiative forcing of climate change from the Copernicus reanalysis of atmospheric composition

Nicolas Bellouin1, Will Davies1, Keith P. Shine1, Johannes Quaas2, Johannes Mülmenstädt2, Piers M. Forster3, Chris Smith3, Lindsay Lee4, Leighton Regayre4, Guy Brasseur5, Natalia Sudarchikova5, Idir Bouarar5, Olivier Boucher6, and Gunnar Myhre7 Nicolas Bellouin et al.
  • 1Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6BB, United Kingdom
  • 2Institute for Meteorology, Universität Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
  • 3Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
  • 4Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 5Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, 20146 Hamburg, German
  • 6Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, Sorbonne Université / CNRS, Paris 75252, France
  • 7Center for International Climate and Environmental Research Oslo (CICERO), 0318 Oslo, Norway

Abstract. Radiative forcing provides an important basis for understanding and predicting global climate changes, but its quantification has historically been done independently for different forcing agents, involved observations to varying degrees, and studies have not always included a detailed analysis of uncertainties. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service reanalysis is an optimal combination of modelling and observations of atmospheric composition. It provides a unique opportunity to rely on observations to quantify the monthly- and spatially-resolved global distributions of radiative forcing consistently for six of the largest forcing agents: carbon dioxide, methane, tropospheric ozone, stratospheric ozone, aerosol-radiation interactions, and aerosol-cloud interactions. These radiative forcing estimates account for adjustments in stratospheric temperatures, but do not account for rapid adjustments in the troposphere. On a global average and over the period 2003–2016, stratospherically adjusted radiative forcing of carbon dioxide has averaged +1.84 W m−2 (5–95% confidence interval: 1.46 to 2.22 W m−2) relative to 1750 and increased at a rate of 17 % per decade. The corresponding values for methane are +0.45 (0.35 to 0.55) W m−2 and 3 % per decade, but with a clear acceleration since 2007. Ozone radiative forcing averages +0.32 (0 to 0.64) W m−2 and aerosol radiative forcing averages −1.37 (−2.17 to −0.57) W m−2. Both have been relatively stable since 2003. Taking the six forcing agents together, there no indication of a slowdown or acceleration in the rate of increase in anthropogenic radiative forcing over the period. These ongoing radiative forcing estimates will monitor the impact on the Earth’s energy budget of the dramatic emission reductions towards net-zero that are needed to limit surface temperature warming to the Paris Agreement temperature targets. Indeed, such impacts should be clearly manifested in radiative forcing before being clear in the temperature record. In addition, this radiative forcing dataset can provide the input distributions needed by researchers involved in monitoring of climate change, detection and attribution, interannual to decadal prediction, and integrated assessment modelling. The data generated by this work are available at (Bellouin et al., 2020).

Nicolas Bellouin et al.

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Nicolas Bellouin et al.

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Radiative forcing of climate change from the Copernicus reanalysis of atmospheric composition N. Bellouin, W. H. Davies, K. P. Shine, J. Quaas, J. Mülmenstädt, P. M. Forster, C. Smith, L. Lee, L. Regayre, G. Brasseur, N. Sudarchikova, I. Bouarar, O. Boucher, and G. Myhre

Nicolas Bellouin et al.


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Short summary
Quantifying the imbalance in the Earth's energy budget caused by human activities is important to understand and predict climate changes. This study presents new estimates of the imbalance caused by changes in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and particles of pollution. Over the period 2003-2016, the overall imbalance has been positive, indicating that the climate system has gained energy and will warm further.
Quantifying the imbalance in the Earth's energy budget caused by human activities is important...