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IPCC AR6 WGI Chapter 7- The Earth's energy budget, climate feedbacks, and climate sensitivity

  • Forster, P., T. Storelvmo, K. Armour, W. Collins, J. L. Dufresne, D. Frame, D. J. Lunt, T. Mauritsen, M. D. Palmer, M. Watanabe, M. Wild, H. Zhang
  • Summary

This chapter assesses the present state of knowledge of Earth’s energy budget: that is, the main flows of energy into and out of the Earth system, and how these energy flows govern the climate response to a radiative forcing. Changes in atmospheric composition and land use, like those caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and emissions of aerosols and their precursors, affect climate through perturbations to Earth’s top-of-atmosphere energy budget. The effective radiative forcings (ERFs) quantify these perturbations, including any consequent adjustment to the climate system (but excluding surface temperature response). How the climate system responds to a given forcing is determined by climate feedbacks associated with physical, biogeophysical and biogeochemical processes. These feedback processes are assessed, as are useful measures of global climate response, namely equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and the transient climate response (TCR). This chapter also assesses emissions metrics, which are used to quantify how the climate response to the emissions of different greenhouse gases compares to the response to the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). This chapter builds on the assessment of carbon cycle and aerosol processes from Chapters 5 and 6, respectively, to quantify non-CO2 biogeochemical feedbacks and the ERF for aerosols. Other chapters in this Report use this chapter’s assessment of ERF, ECS and TCR to help understand historical and future temperature changes (Chapters 3 and 4, respectively), the response to cumulative emissions and the remaining carbon budget (Chapter 5), emissions-based radiative forcing (Chapter 6) and sea level rise (Chapter 9). This chapter builds on findings from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5), the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) and the Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas luxes in terrestrial ecosystems (SRCCL). Very likely ranges are presented unless otherwise indicated.

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    In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J. B. R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press.