Insufficient forcing uncertainty underestimates the risk of high climate sensitivity



[1] Uncertainty in climate sensitivity is a fundamental problem for projections of the future climate. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is defined as the asymptotic response of global-mean surface air temperature to a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration from the preindustrial level (≈280 ppm). In spite of various efforts to estimate its value, climate sensitivity is still not well constrained. Here we show that the probability of high climate sensitivity is higher than previously thought because uncertainty in historical radiative forcing has not been sufficiently considered. The greater the uncertainty that is considered for radiative forcing, the more difficult it is to rule out high climate sensitivity, although low climate sensitivity (<2°C) remains unlikely. We call for further research on how best to represent forcing uncertainty.