The fast and slow components of global warming in a comprehensive climate model are isolated by examining the response to an instantaneous return to preindustrial forcing. The response is characterized by an initial fast exponential decay with an e-folding time smaller than 5 yr, leaving behind a remnant that evolves more slowly. The slow component is estimated to be small at present, as measured by the global mean near-surface air temperature, and, in the model examined, grows to 0.4°C by 2100 in the A1B scenario from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), and then to 1.4°C by 2300 if one holds radiative forcing fixed after 2100. The dominance of the fast component at present is supported by examining the response to an instantaneous doubling of CO2 and by the excellent fit to the model's ensemble mean twentieth-century evolution with a simple one-box model with no long times scales.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science