The 2012 Norwegian Climate Research Report – Reinforcing The Need To Broaden Climate Science Assessments

I was alerted to a report [h/t Robert Pollock] titled

Norwegian climate research – an evaluation

In Section 2.1.1.6 (Future Directions), as Robert altered us to, there is this interesting text [highlight added]

Although the expressed political needs regarding science results primarily relate to the impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gasses, there is also a need for increased research on the impact of human activity on land cover and land-use change, especially in relation to the albedo and the biogeochemical and hydrological cycles. Furthermore, a good understanding of the climate system cannot be reached without a dedicated effort to understand the contribution to climate change from natural climate processes. The geological history very clearly documents a strong climate forcing associated with solar variability, although the exact mechanism has not been identified. This should call for a coherent international effort, but surprisingly, the worldwide scientific effort to increase our understanding of the natural variations is very limited, and this is most probably related to the limited funding available for basic, not agenda-driven research. Therefore, in addition to implementing the recommendations of Klima21, this committee recommends an increased effort in research on the natural causes of climate change, in particular the activity variations of the sun, the mechanism of cloud formation, and the multi-decadal variations in ocean current systems.

This is a remarkable recognition by an internationally well-respected group of climate scientists that there is a need to move beyond the inappropriately narrow focus of the IPCC on the global annual average radiative forcing from CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases. The Norwegian report reinforces the conclusion reached in the USA report

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties.             Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp

where the Executive Summary includes the finding that

Despite all these advantages, the traditional global mean TOA radiative forcing concept has some important limitations, which have come increasingly to light over the past decade. The concept is inadequate for some forcing agents, such as absorbing aerosols and land-use changes, that may have regional climate impacts much greater than would be predicted from TOA radiative forcing. Also, it diagnoses only one measure of climate change—global mean surface temperature response—while offering little information on regional climate change or precipitation. These limitations can be addressed by expanding the radiative forcing concept and through the introduction of additional forcing metrics. In particular, the concept needs to be extended to account for (1) the vertical structure of radiative forcing, (2) regional variability in radiative forcing, and (3) nonradiative forcing. A new metric to account for the vertical structure of radiative forcing is recommended below. Understanding of regional and nonradiative forcings is too premature to recommend specific metrics at this time. Instead, the committee identifies specific research needs to improve quantification and understanding of these forcings.

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