Submitted as: model experiment description paper
04 Aug 2023
Submitted as: model experiment description paper |  | 04 Aug 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

New model ensemble reveals how forcing uncertainty and model structure alter climate simulated across CMIP generations of the Community Earth System Model

Marika M. Holland, Cecile Hannay, John Fasullo, Alexandra Jahn, Jennifer E. Kay, Michael Mills, Isla R. Simpson, William Wieder, Peter Lawrence, Erik Kluzek, and David Bailey

Abstract. Climate simulation uncertainties arise from internal variability, model structure, and external forcings. Model intercomparisons (such as the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project; CMIP) and single-model large ensembles have provided insight on uncertainty sources. Under the Community Earth System Model (CESM) project, large ensembles have been performed for CESM2 (a CMIP6-era model) and CESM1 (a CMIP5-era model). We refer to these as CESM2-LE and CESM1-LE. The external forcing used in these simulations changed to be consistent with their CMIP generation. As a result, differences between CESM2-LE and CESM1-LE ensemble means arise from changes in both model structure and forcing. Here we present new ensemble simulations which allow us to separate the influences of these model structural and forcing differences. Our new CESM2 simulations are run with CMIP5 forcings equivalent to those used in the CESM1-LE. We find a strong influence of historical forcing uncertainty due to aerosol effects on simulated climate. For the historical period, forcing drives reduced global warming and ocean heat uptake in CESM2-LE relative to CESM1-LE that is counteracted by the influence of model structure. The influence of model structure and forcing vary across the globe and the Arctic exhibits a distinct signal that contrasts with the global mean. For the 21st century, the importance of scenario forcing differences (SSP3-7.0 for CESM2-LE and RCP8.5 for CESM1-LE) is evident. The new simulations presented here allow us to diagnose the influence of model structure on 21st century change despite large scenario forcing differences, revealing that differences in the meridional distribution of warming are caused by model structure. Feedback analysis reveals that clouds and their impact on shortwave radiation explain many of these structural differences between CESM2 and CESM1. In the Arctic, albedo changes control transient climate evolution differences due to structural differences between CESM2 and CESM1.

Marika M. Holland et al.

Status: open (extended)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on gmd-2023-125', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Sep 2023 reply

Marika M. Holland et al.

Marika M. Holland et al.


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Short summary
Climate evolves in response to changing forcings, as prescribed in simulations. Models and forcings are updated over time to reflect new understanding. This makes it difficult to attribute simulation differences to either model or forcing changes. Here we present new simulations which enable the separation of model structure and forcing influence between two widely used simulation sets. Results indicate a strong influence of aerosol emission uncertainty on historical climate.