An alternative to radiative forcing for estimating the relative importance of climate change mechanisms
Article first published online: 23 OCT 2003
Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 30, Issue 20, October 2003
How to Cite
2003), An alternative to radiative forcing for estimating the relative importance of climate change mechanisms, Geophys. Res. Lett., 30, 2047, doi:10.1029/2003GL018141, 20., , , and (
- Issue published online: 23 OCT 2003
- Article first published online: 23 OCT 2003
- Manuscript Accepted: 23 SEP 2003
- Manuscript Revised: 15 SEP 2003
- Manuscript Received: 10 JUL 2003
 Radiative forcing is widely used to measure the relative efficacy of climate change mechanisms. Earlier general circulation model (GCM) experiments showed that the global-mean radiative forcing could be used to predict, with useful accuracy, the consequent global-mean surface temperature change regardless of whether the forcing was due to, for example, changes in greenhouse gases or solar output. More recent experiments indicate that for changes in absorbing aerosols and ozone, the predictive ability of radiative forcing is much worse. Building on a suggestion from Hansen and co-workers, we propose an alternative, the “adjusted troposphere and stratosphere forcing”. We present GCM calculations showing that it is a significantly more reliable predictor of this GCM's surface temperature change than radiative forcing. It is a candidate to supplement radiative forcing as a metric for comparing different mechanisms and provides a framework for understanding the circumstances in which radiative forcing is less reliable.