Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Publication Date
26 October 2023

Revisiting a Constraint on Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity From a Last Millennium Perspective



Despite decades of effort to constrain equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), current best estimates still exhibit a large spread. Past studies have sought to reduce ECS uncertainty through a variety of methods including emergent constraints. One example uses global temperature variability over the past century to constrain ECS. While this method shows promise, it has been criticized for its susceptibility to the influence of anthropogenic forcing and the limited length of the instrumental record used to compute temperature variability. Here, we investigate the emergent relationship between ECS and two metrics of global temperature variability using model simulations and paleoclimate reconstructions over the last millennium (850–1999). We find empirical evidence in support of these emergent relationships. Observational constraints suggest a central ECS estimate of 2.6–2.8 K, consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's consensus estimate of 3K. Moreover, they suggest ECS “likely” ranges of 1.8–3.3 K and 2.0–3.6 K.

Cropper, Stephen, Chad Thackeray, and Julien Emile-Geay. 2023. “Revisiting A Constraint On Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity From A Last Millennium Perspective”. Geophysical Research Letters 50. doi:10.1029/2023GL104126.
Funding Program Area(s)