Constraining global changes in temperature and precipitation from observable changes in surface radiative heating

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Chirag Dhara


Changes in the atmospheric composition alter the magnitude and partitioning between the downward propagating solar and atmospheric longwave radiative fluxes heating the Earths surface. These changes are computed by radiative transfer codes in Global Climate Models and measured with high precision at surface observation networks. Changes in radiative heating signify changes in the global surface temperature and hydrologic cycle. Here, we develop a conceptual framework using an Energy Balance Model to show that first‐order changes in the hydrologic cycle are mainly associated with changes in solar radiation, while those in surface temperature are mainly associated with changes in atmospheric longwave radiation. These insights are used to explain a range of phenomena including observed historical trends, biases in climate model output, and the intermodel spread in climate change projections. These results may help identify biases in future generations of climate models.



Climate, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Physics


Precipitation, Climate change projections, Convective flux, Energy balance model, GCM biases, hydrologic cycle, Latent heat flux, Model spread, Radiative-convective equilibrium, Radiative transfer, Surface energy balance, Surface radiative heating, Surface temperature, Turbulent fluxes


Published: 2020-04-30 02:08

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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