Many modelling groups that contribute to CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6) have found a larger equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) with their latest model versions compared with the values obtained with the earlier versions used in CMIP5. This is also the case for the EC-Earth model. Therefore, in this study, we investigate what developments since the CMIP5 era could have caused the increase in the ECS in this model. Apart from increases in the horizontal and vertical resolution, the EC-Earth model has also substantially changed the representation of aerosols; in particular, it has introduced a more sophisticated description of aerosol indirect effects. After testing the model with some of the recent updates switched off, we find that the ECS increase can be attributed to the more advanced treatment of aerosols, with the largest contribution coming from the effect of aerosols on cloud microphysics (cloud lifetime or second indirect effect). The increase in climate sensitivity is unrelated to model tuning, as all experiments were performed with the same tuning parameters and only the representation of the aerosol effects was changed. These results cannot be generalised to other models, as their CMIP5 and CMIP6 versions may differ with respect to aspects other than the aerosol–cloud interaction, but the results highlight the strong sensitivity of ECS to the details of the aerosol forcing.
K Wyser, T van Noije, S Yang, J von Hardenberg, D O'Donnell, R Döscher. On the increased climate sensitivity in the EC-Earth model from CMIP5 to CMIP6
Journal: Geosci. Model Dev., Volume: 13, Year: 2020, First page: 3465, Last page: 3474, doi: 10.5194/gmd-13-3465-2020