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  1. Here, we show that the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) provides a stronger constraint on equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), the global warming from increasing greenhouse gases, after accounting for temperature patterns. Feedbacks governing ECS depend on spatial patterns of surface temperature (“pattern effects”); hence, using the LGM to constrain future warming requires quantifying how temperature patterns produce different feedbacks during LGM cooling versus modern-day warming. Combining data assimilation reconstructions with atmospheric models, we show that the climate is more sensitive to LGM forcing because ice sheets amplify extratropical cooling where feedbacks are destabilizing. Accounting for LGM pattern effects yields a median modern-day ECS of 2.4°C, 66% range 1.7° to 3.5°C (1.4° to 5.0°C, 5 to 95%), from LGM evidence alone. Combining the LGM with other lines of evidence, the best estimate becomes 2.9°C, 66% range 2.4° to 3.5°C (2.1° to 4.1°C, 5 to 95%), substantially narrowing uncertainty compared to recent assessments.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 19, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. The observed rate of global warming since the 1970s has been proposed as a strong constraint on equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and transient climate response (TCR)—key metrics of the global climate response to greenhouse-gas forcing. Using CMIP5/6 models, we show that the inter-model relationship between warming and these climate sensitivity metrics (the basis for the constraint) arises from a similarity in transient and equilibrium warming patterns within the models, producing an effective climate sensitivity (EffCS) governing recent warming that is comparable to the value of ECS governing long-term warming under CO2forcing. However, CMIP5/6 historical simulations do not reproduce observed warming patterns. When driven by observed patterns, even high ECS models produce low EffCS values consistent with the observed global warming rate. The inability of CMIP5/6 models to reproduce observed warming patterns thus results in a bias in the modeled relationship between recent global warming and climate sensitivity. Correcting for this bias means that observed warming is consistent with wide ranges of ECS and TCR extending to higher values than previously recognized. These findings are corroborated by energy balance model simulations and coupled model (CESM1-CAM5) simulations that better replicate observed patterns via tropospheric wind nudging or Antarctic meltwater fluxes. Because CMIP5/6 models fail to simulate observed warming patterns, proposed warming-based constraints on ECS, TCR, and projected global warming are biased low. The results reinforce recent findings that the unique pattern of observed warming has slowed global-mean warming over recent decades and that how the pattern will evolve in the future represents a major source of uncertainty in climate projections.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 19, 2025
  4. Abstract

    Over recent decades, the Southern Ocean (SO) has experienced multi‐decadal surface cooling despite global warming. Earlier studies have proposed that recent SO cooling has been caused by the strengthening of surface westerlies associated with a positive trend of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) forced by ozone depletion. Here we revisit this hypothesis by examining the relationships between the SAM, zonal winds and SO sea‐surface temperature (SST). Applying a low‐frequency component analysis to observations, we show that while positive SAM anomalies can induce SST cooling as previously found, this seasonal‐to‐interannual modulation makes only a small contribution to the observed long‐term SO cooling. Global climate models well capture the observed interannual SAM‐SST relationship, and yet generally fail to simulate the observed multi‐decadal SO cooling. The forced SAM trend in recent decades is thus unlikely the main cause of the observed SO cooling, pointing to a limited role of the Antarctic ozone hole.

     
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  5. Abstract Despite substantial global mean warming, surface cooling has occurred in both the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean and the Southern Ocean over the past 40 years, influencing both regional climates and estimates of Earth’s climate sensitivity to rising greenhouse gases. While a tropical influence on the extratropics has been extensively studied in the literature, here we demonstrate that the teleconnection works in the other direction as well, with the southeast Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean exerting a strong influence on the tropical eastern Pacific. Using a slab ocean model, we find that the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) response to an imposed Southern Ocean surface heat flux forcing is sensitive to the longitudinal location of that forcing, suggesting an atmospheric pathway associated with regional dynamics rather than reflecting a zonal-mean energetic constraint. The transient response shows that an imposed Southern Ocean cooling in the southeast Pacific sector first propagates into the tropics by mean-wind advection. Once tropical Pacific SSTs are perturbed, they then drive remote changes to atmospheric circulation in the extratropics that further enhance both Southern Ocean and tropical cooling. These results suggest a mutually interactive two-way teleconnection between the Southern Ocean and tropical Pacific through atmospheric circulations, and highlight potential impacts on the tropics from the extratropical climate changes over the instrumental record and in the future. 
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  6. Abstract

    The atmospheric Green's function method is a technique for modeling the response of the atmosphere to changes in the spatial field of surface temperature. While early studies applied this method to changes in atmospheric circulation, it has also become an important tool to understand changes in radiative feedbacks due to evolving patterns of warming, a phenomenon called the “pattern effect.” To better study this method, this paper presents a protocol for creating atmospheric Green's functions to serve as the basis for a model intercomparison project, GFMIP. The protocol has been developed using a series of sensitivity tests performed with the HadAM3 atmosphere‐only general circulation model, along with existing and new simulations from other models. Our preliminary results have uncovered nonlinearities in the response of the atmosphere to surface temperature changes, including an asymmetrical response to warming versus cooling patch perturbations, and a change in the dependence of the response on the magnitude and size of the patches. These nonlinearities suggest that the pattern effect may depend on the heterogeneity of warming as well as its location. These experiments have also revealed tradeoffs in experimental design between patch size, perturbation strength, and the length of control and patch simulations. The protocol chosen on the basis of these experiments balances scientific utility with the simulation time and setup required by the Green's function approach. Running these simulations will further our understanding of many aspects of atmospheric response, from the pattern effect and radiative feedbacks to changes in circulation, cloudiness, and precipitation.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Effective climate sensitivity (EffCS), commonly estimated from model simulations with abrupt 4×CO2for 150 years, has been shown to depend on the CO2forcing level. To understand this dependency systematically, we performed a series of simulations with a range of abrupt CO2forcing in two climate models. Our results indicate that normalized EffCS values in these simulations are a non‐monotonic function of the CO2forcing, decreasing between 3× and 4×CO2in CESM1‐LE (2× and 3×CO2in GISS‐E2.1‐G) and increasing at higher CO2levels. The minimum EffCS value, caused by anomalously negative radiative feedbacks, arises mainly from sea‐surface temperature (SST) relative cooling in the tropical and subtropical North Atlantic. This cooling is associated with the formation of the North Atlantic Warming Hole and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation collapse under CO2forcing. Our findings imply that understanding changes in North Atlantic SST patterns is important for constraining near‐future and equilibrium global warming.

     
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