Making sense of palaeoclimate sensitivity

Hoenisch, Baerbel; PALAEOSENS Project Members

Many palaeoclimate studies have quantified pre-anthropogenic climate change to calculate climate sensitivity (equilibrium temperature change in response to radiative forcing change), but a lack of consistent methodologies produces a wide range of estimates and hinders comparability of results. Here we present a stricter approach, to improve intercomparison of palaeoclimate sensitivity estimates in a manner compatible with equilibrium projections for future climate change. Over the past 65million years, this reveals a climate sensitivity (in KW21 m2) of 0.3–1.9 or 0.6–1.3 at 95% or 68% probability, respectively. The latter implies a warming of 2.2–4.8 K per doubling of atmospheric CO2, which agrees with IPCC estimates.


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Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
December 26, 2012


PALAEOSENS Project Members include E. J. Rohling, E. J. Rohling, A. Sluijs, H. A. Dijkstra, P. Köhler, R. S. W. van de Wal, A. S. von der Heydt, D. J. Beerling, A. Berger, P. K. Bijl, M. Crucifix, R. DeConto, S. S. Drijfhout, A. Fedorov, G. L. Foster, A. Ganopolski, J. Hansen, B. Hönisch, H. Hooghiemstra, M. Huber, P. Huybers, R. Knutti, D. W. Lea, L. J. Lourens, D. Lunt, V. Masson-Demotte, M. Medina-Elizalde, B. Otto-Bliesner, M. Pagani, H. Pälike, H. Renssen, D. L. Royer, M. Siddall, P. Valdes, J. C. Zachos & R. E. Zeebe