Use climate records to investigate relationships between regional radiative forcing (e.g., land-use or aerosol changes) and climate response in the same region, other regions, and globally.
Quantify and compare climate responses from regional radiative forcings in different climate models and on different timescales (e.g., seasonal, interannual), and report results in climate change assessments.
Several types of forcings—most notably aerosols, land-use and land-cover change, and modifications to biogeochemistry—impact the climate system in nonradiative ways, in particular by modifying the hydrological cycle and vegetation dynamics. Aerosols exert a forcing on the hydrological cycle by modifying cloud condensation nuclei, ice nuclei, precipitation efficiency, and the ratio between solar direct and diffuse radiation received. Other nonradiative forcings modify the biological components of the climate system by changing the fluxes of trace gases and heat between vegetation, soils, and the atmosphere and by modifying the amount and types of vegetation. No metrics for quantifying such nonradiative forcings have been accepted. Nonradiative forcings have eventual radiative impacts, so one option would be to quantify these radiative impacts. However, this approach may not convey appropriately the impacts of nonradiative forcings on societally relevant climate variables such as precipitation or ecosystem function. Any new metrics must also be able to characterize the regional structure in nonradiative forcing and climate response.
Improve understanding and parameterizations of aerosol-cloud thermodynamic interactions and land-atmosphere interactions in climate models in order to quantify the impacts of these nonradiative forcings on both regional and global scales.
Develop improved land-use and land-cover classifications at high resolution for the past and present, as well as scenarios for the future.
The radiative forcing concept is used extensively to inform climate policy discussions, in particular to compare the relative impacts of forcing agents. For example, integrated assessment models use radiative forcing as input to simple climate models, which are linked with socioeconomic models that predict economic damages from climate impacts and costs of various response strategies. The simplified climate models generally focus on global mean surface temperature, ignoring regional temperature changes