Climate Forcing Metric

Strengths

Limitations

Regional radiative forcing (direct and indirect)

 

  • May provide a better measure of regional climate response than global radiative forcing

  • Allows characterization of teleconnected response to a regionally isolated forcing

 

  • Further work is needed to quantify links of regional radiative forcing to regional and global climate response

Regional nonradiative forcing (hydrological, land use, biogeochemical)

 

  • Recognizes additional nonradiative climate forcing components

  • Allows characterization of teleconnected response to a regionally isolated forcing

  • Nonradiative forcing alters radiative forcing and thus provides a more complete characterization of radi

 

  • No widely accepted metrics for quantifying regional nonradiative forcing

  • Further work is needed to quantify links of regional nonradiative forcing to regional and global climate response

  • Some types of nonradiative forcing are not easily quantified in watts per square meter, thus it is not clear how to compare them to radiative forcing

Ocean heat content

 

  • Can be used to calculate the net radiative imbalance of the Earth

  • Offers a valuable constraint on the performance of climate models

 

  • Observations may have insufficient frequency and spatial coverage to accurately determine the radiative imbalance at the necessary resolution

NOTE: TAR = IPCC Third Assessment Report (IPCC, 2001).

wide range of changes in well-mixed greenhouse gases, solar irradiance, surface albedo, and nonabsorbing aerosols (IPCC, 2001). By assuming a constant climate sensitivity parameter, forcing can be translated directly into a temperature response. Because calculating radiative forcing is straightforward, many factors that may influence radiative forcing can be investigated in climate models, simpler versions of those models, and chemical transport models. For example, the effects of different estimates of past forcings can be compared to each other. Likewise, comparisons can be made of multiple possible future forcing scenarios. Furthermore, the radia-



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