skip to main content

Title: Evaluation of Arctic warming from the CMIP6 models
The Arctic has experienced a warming rate higher than the global mean in the past decades, but previous studies show that there are large uncertainties associated with future Arctic temperature projections. In this study, near- surface mean temperatures in the Arctic are analyzed from 22 models participating in phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). Compared with the ERA5 reanalysis, most CMIP6 models underestimate the observed mean temperature in the Arctic during 1979–2014. The largest cold biases are found over the Greenland Sea the Barents Sea, and the Kara Sea. Under the SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5, and SSP5-8.5 scenarios, the multimodel ensemble mean of 22 CMIP6 models exhibits significant Arctic warming in the future and the warming rate is more than twice that of the global/Northern Hemisphere mean. Model spread is the largest contributor to the overall uncertainty in projections, which accounts for 55.4% of the total uncertainty at the start of projections in 2015 and remains at 32.9% at the end of projections in 2095. Internal variability uncertainty accounts for 39.3% of the total uncertainty at the start of projections but decreases to 6.5% at the end of the twenty-first century, while scenario uncertainty rapidly increases from 5.3% to more » 60.7% over the period from 2015 to 2095. It is found that the largest model uncertainties are consistent cold bias in the oceanic regions in the models, which is connected with excessive sea ice area caused by the weak Atlantic poleward heat transport. These results suggest that large intermodel spread and uncertainties exist in the CMIP6 models’ simulation and projection of the Arctic near- surface temperature and that there are different responses over the ocean and land in the Arctic to greenhouse gas forcing. Future research needs to pay more attention to the different characteristics and mechanisms of Arctic Ocean and land warming to reduce the spread. « less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of climate
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract. The Arctic is warming 2 to 3 times faster than the global average, partly due to changes in short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) including aerosols. In order to study the effects of atmospheric aerosols in this warming, recent past (1990–2014) and future (2015–2050) simulations have been carried out using the GISS-E2.1 Earth system model to study the aerosol burdens and their radiative and climate impacts over the Arctic (>60∘ N), using anthropogenic emissions from the Eclipse V6b and the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) databases, while global annual mean greenhouse gas concentrations were prescribed and kept fixed in all simulations. Results showed that the simulations have underestimated observed surface aerosol levels, in particular black carbon (BC) and sulfate (SO42-), by more than 50 %, with the smallest biases calculated for the atmosphere-only simulations, where winds are nudged to reanalysis data. CMIP6 simulations performed slightly better in reproducing the observed surface aerosol concentrations and climate parameters, compared to the Eclipse simulations. In addition, simulations where atmosphere and ocean are fully coupled had slightly smaller biases in aerosol levels compared to atmosphere-only simulations without nudging. Arctic BC, organic aerosol (OA), and SO42- burdens decrease significantly in all simulations by 10 %–60 % following the reductionsmore »of 7 %–78 % in emission projections, with the Eclipse ensemble showing larger reductions in Arctic aerosol burdens compared to the CMIP6 ensemble. For the 2030–2050 period, the Eclipse ensemble simulated a radiative forcing due to aerosol–radiation interactions (RFARI) of -0.39±0.01 W m−2, which is −0.08 W m−2 larger than the 1990–2010 mean forcing (−0.32 W m−2), of which -0.24±0.01 W m−2 was attributed to the anthropogenic aerosols. The CMIP6 ensemble simulated a RFARI of −0.35 to −0.40 W m−2 for the same period, which is −0.01 to −0.06 W m−2 larger than the 1990–2010 mean forcing of −0.35 W m−2. The scenarios with little to no mitigation (worst-case scenarios) led to very small changes in the RFARI, while scenarios with medium to large emission mitigations led to increases in the negative RFARI, mainly due to the decrease in the positive BC forcing and the decrease in the negative SO42- forcing. The anthropogenic aerosols accounted for −0.24 to −0.26 W m−2 of the net RFARI in 2030–2050 period, in Eclipse and CMIP6 ensembles, respectively. Finally, all simulations showed an increase in the Arctic surface air temperatures throughout the simulation period. By 2050, surface air temperatures are projected to increase by 2.4 to 2.6 ∘C in the Eclipse ensemble and 1.9 to 2.6 ∘C in the CMIP6 ensemble, compared to the 1990–2010 mean. Overall, results show that even the scenarios with largest emission reductions leads to similar impact on the future Arctic surface air temperatures and sea-ice extent compared to scenarios with smaller emission reductions, implying reductions of greenhouse emissions are still necessary to mitigate climate change.« less
  2. Abstract

    Storylines of atmospheric circulation change, or physically self-consistent narratives of plausible future events, have recently been proposed as a non-probabilistic means to represent uncertainties in climate change projections. Here, we apply the storyline approach to 21st century projections of summer air stagnation over Europe and the United States. We use a Climate Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) ensemble to generate stagnation storylines based on the forced response of three remote drivers of the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitude atmospheric circulation: North Atlantic warming, North Pacific warming, and tropical versus Arctic warming. Under a high radiative forcing scenario (SSP5-8.5), models consistently project increases in stagnation over Europe and the U.S., but the magnitude and spatial distribution of changes vary substantially across CMIP6 ensemble members, suggesting that future projections are not well-constrained when using the ensemble mean alone. We find that the diversity of projected stagnation changes depends on the forced response of remote drivers in individual models. This is especially true in Europe, where differences of ∼2 summer stagnant days per degree of global warming are found amongst the different storyline combinations. For example, the greatest projected increase in stagnation for most European regions leads to the smallest increase in stagnationmore »for southwestern Europe; i.e. limited North Atlantic warming combined with near-equitable tropical and Arctic warming. In the U.S., only the atmosphere over the northern Rocky Mountain states demonstrates comparable stagnation projection uncertainty, due to opposite influences of remote drivers on the meteorological conditions that lead to stagnation.

    « less
  3. Abstract. Ice flow models of the Antarctic ice sheet are commonly used to simulate its future evolution inresponse to different climate scenarios and assess the mass loss that would contribute tofuture sea level rise. However, there is currently no consensus on estimates of the future massbalance of the ice sheet, primarily because of differences in the representation of physicalprocesses, forcings employed and initial states of ice sheet models. This study presentsresults from ice flow model simulations from 13 international groups focusing on the evolutionof the Antarctic ice sheet during the period 2015–2100 as part of the Ice Sheet ModelIntercomparison for CMIP6 (ISMIP6). They are forced with outputs from a subset of models from theCoupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), representative of the spread in climatemodel results. Simulations of the Antarctic ice sheet contribution to sea level rise in responseto increased warming during this period varies between −7.8 and 30.0 cm of sea level equivalent(SLE) under Representative ConcentrationPathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario forcing. These numbers are relative to a control experiment withconstant climate conditions and should therefore be added to the mass loss contribution underclimate conditions similar to present-day conditions over the same period. The simulated evolution of theWest Antarctic ice sheetmore »varies widely among models, with an overall mass loss, up to 18.0 cm SLE, in response to changes in oceanic conditions. East Antarctica mass change varies between −6.1 and8.3 cm SLE in the simulations, with a significant increase in surface mass balance outweighingthe increased ice discharge under most RCP 8.5 scenario forcings. The inclusion of ice shelfcollapse, here assumed to be caused by large amounts of liquid water ponding at the surface ofice shelves, yields an additional simulated mass loss of 28 mm compared to simulations without iceshelf collapse. The largest sources of uncertainty come from the climate forcing, the ocean-induced melt rates, thecalibration of these melt rates based on oceanic conditions taken outside of ice shelf cavitiesand the ice sheet dynamic response to these oceanic changes. Results under RCP 2.6 scenario basedon two CMIP5 climate models show an additional mass loss of 0 and 3 cm of SLE on average compared tosimulations done under present-day conditions for the two CMIP5 forcings used and displaylimited mass gain in East Antarctica.« less
  4. Abstract

    While most models agree that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) becomes weaker under greenhouse gas emission and is likely to weaken over the twenty-first century, they disagree on the projected magnitudes of AMOC weakening. In this work, CMIP6 models with stronger climatological AMOC are shown to project stronger AMOC weakening in both 1% ramping CO2and abrupt CO2quadrupling simulations. A physical interpretation of this result is developed. For models with stronger mean state AMOC, stratification in the upper Labrador Sea is weaker, allowing for stronger mixing of the surface buoyancy flux. In response to CO2increase, surface warming is mixed to the deeper Labrador Sea in models with stronger upper-ocean mixing. This subsurface warming and corresponding density decrease drives AMOC weakening through advection from the Labrador Sea to the subtropics via the deep western boundary current. Time series analysis shows that most CMIP6 models agree that the decrease in subsurface Labrador Sea density leads AMOC weakening in the subtropics by several years. Also, idealized experiments conducted in an ocean-only model show that the subsurface warming over 500–1500 m in the Labrador Sea leads to stronger AMOC weakening several years later, while the warming that is too shallow (<500 m) ormore »too deep (>1500 m) in the Labrador Sea causes little AMOC weakening. These results suggest that a better representation of mean state AMOC is necessary for narrowing the intermodel uncertainty of AMOC weakening to greenhouse gas emission and its corresponding impacts on future warming projections.

    « less
  5. Abstract

    The ocean has absorbed about 25% of the carbon emitted by humans to date. To better predict how much climate will change, it is critical to understand how this ocean carbon sink will respond to future emissions. Here, we examine the ocean carbon sink response to low emission (SSP1-1.9, SSP1-2.6), intermediate emission (SSP2-4.5, SSP5-3.4-OS), and high emission (SSP5-8.5) scenarios in CMIP6 Earth System Models and in MAGICC7, a reduced-complexity climate carbon system model. From 2020–2100, the trajectory of the global-mean sink approximately parallels the trajectory of anthropogenic emissions. With increasing cumulative emissions during this century (SSP5-8.5 and SSP2-4.5), the cumulative ocean carbon sink absorbs 20%–30% of cumulative emissions since 2015. In scenarios where emissions decline, the ocean absorbs an increasingly large proportion of emissions (up to 120% of cumulative emissions since 2015). Despite similar responses in all models, there remains substantial quantitative spread in estimates of the cumulative sink through 2100 within each scenario, up to 50 PgC in CMIP6 and 120 PgC in the MAGICC7 ensemble. We demonstrate that for all but SSP1-2.6, approximately half of this future spread can be eliminated if model results are adjusted to agree with modern observation-based estimates. Considering the spatial distribution of air-sea CO2fluxesmore »in CMIP6, we find significant zonal-mean divergence from the suite of newly-available observation-based constraints. We conclude that a significant portion of future ocean carbon sink uncertainty is attributable to modern-day errors in the mean state of air-sea CO2fluxes, which in turn are associated with model representations of ocean physics and biogeochemistry. Bringing models into agreement with modern observation-based estimates at regional to global scales can substantially reduce uncertainty in future role of the ocean in absorbing anthropogenic CO2from the atmosphere and mitigating climate change.

    « less