Constraining the Influence of Natural Variability to Improve Estimates of Global Aerosol Indirect Effects in a Nudged Version of the Community Atmosphere Model 5
Natural modes of variability on many timescales influence aerosol particle distributions and cloud properties such that isolating statistically significant differences in cloud radiative forcing due to anthropogenic aerosol perturbations (indirect effects) typically requires integrating over long simulations. For state-of-the-art global climate models (GCM), especially those in which embedded cloud-resolving models replace conventional statistical parameterizations (i.e. multi-scale modeling framework, MMF), the required long integrations can be prohibitively expensive. Here an alternative approach is explored, which implements Newtonian relaxation (nudging) to constrain simulations with both pre-industrial and present-day aerosol emissions toward identical meteorological conditions, thus reducing differences in natural variability and dampening feedback responses in order to isolate radiative forcing. Ten-year GCM simulations with nudging provide a more stable estimate of the global-annual mean net aerosol indirect radiative forcing than do conventional free-running simulations. The estimates have mean values and 95% confidence intervals of -1.19 ± 0.02 W/m2 and -1.37 ± 0.13 W/m2 for nudged and free-running simulations, respectively. Nudging also substantially increases the fraction of the world’s area in which a statistically significant aerosol indirect effect can be detected (66% and 28% of the Earth's surface for nudged and free-running simulations, respectively). One-year MMF simulations with and without nudging provide global-annual mean net aerosol indirect radiative forcing estimates of -0.81 W/m2 and - 0.82 W/m2, respectively. These results compare well with previous estimates from threeyear free-running MMF simulations (-0.83 W/m2), which showed the aerosol-cloud relationship to be in better agreement with observations and high-resolution models than in the results obtained with conventional cloud parameterizations.