Historical Changes and Reasons for Model Differences in Anthropogenic Aerosol Forcing in CMIP6

The Radiative Forcing Model Intercomparison Project (RFMIP) allows estimates of effective radiative forcing (ERF) in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase six (CMIP6). We analyze the RFMIP output, including the new experiments from models that use the same parameterization for anthropogenic aerosols (RFMIP-SpAer), to characterize and better understand model differences in aerosol ERF. We find little changes in the aerosol ERF for 1970–2014 in the CMIP6 multi-model mean, which implies greenhouse gases primarily explain the positive trend in the total anthropogenic ERF. Cloud-mediated effects dominate the present-day aerosol ERF in most models. The results highlight a regional increase in marine cloudiness due to aerosols, despite suppressed cloud lifetime effects in that RFMIP-SpAer experiment. Negative cloud-mediated effects mask positive direct effects in many models, which arise from strong anthropogenic aerosol absorption. The findings suggest opportunities to better constrain simulated ERF by revisiting the optical properties and long-range transport of aerosols.


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