Radiative Forcings of Well-Mixed Greenhouse Gases

Date

2014-05-01

Authors

Byrne, Brendan

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Abstract

A change in the atmospheric inventory of a greenhouse gas produces a radiative forcing on the atmosphere which results in climatic change. Thus to understand climate change resulting from perturbations to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations it is necessary to quantify the radiative forcing. Here, radiative forcings are presented for large changes in atmospheric CO2, CH4, and N2O in the modern atmosphere and large changes in atmospheric CO2, CH4 and 18 other gases for the Archean atmosphere. For the modern Earth, I present new calculations of radiative forcing at very high concentrations of CO2, CH4, and N2O, relevant to extreme anthropogenic climate change and paleoclimate studies. CO2 forcing is calculated over the range 100 ppmv to 50,000 ppmv. CH4, and N2O forcings are calculated over the range 100 ppbv to 100 ppmv. The sensitivity of these calculations to spatial averaging and tropopause definition are examined. I compare our results with the ``simplified expressions'' reported by IPCC, and find significant differences at high greenhouse gas concentrations. I provide new simplified expressions which agree much better with the calculated forcings, and suggest that these expressions be used in place of the IPCC expressions. Additionally, I provide meridionally resolved forcings which may be used to force simple and intermediate complexity climate models. For the Archean Earth, I present new calculations of radiative forcing for CO2 (10^-6 - 1 bar), CH4 (500 ppbv - 10,000 ppmv) and 18 other gases (10 ppbv - 10 ppmv). I aim to provide a set of radiative forcing and overlap calculations which can be used as a standard for comparisons. Radiative forcings are calculated for atmospheres with various N2 inventories (0.5, 1, and 2 bar). The effect of overlap and atmospheric pressure on radiative forcing are examined. The CO2 radiative forcings are consistent with previous work, however, I find significantly more shortwave absorption by CH4 than previously reported which may limit warming above 100 ppmv. For the 18 other gases, I find that significant radiative forcings result from low concentrations (<1 ppmv). These forcings are compared to those given in the literature.

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Keywords

radiative forcing, greenhouse gases, faint young sun paradox

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