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Mauritsen T., B. Stevens, R. Erich, . . ., R. Pincus, et al. (August 2012): Tuning the climate of a global model. J. Adv. Model. Earth Syst., 4 (3), M00A01. doi:10.1029/2012MS000154

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During a development stage global climate models have their properties adjusted or tuned in various ways to best match the known state of the Earth's climate system. These desired properties are observables, such as the radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere, the global mean temperature, sea ice, clouds and wind fields. The tuning is typically performed by adjusting uncertain, or even non-observable, parameters related to processes not explicitly represented at the model grid resolution. The practice of climate model tuning has seen an increasing level of attention because key model properties, such as climate sensitivity, have been shown to depend on frequently used tuning parameters. Here we provide insights into how climate model tuning is practically done in the case of closing the radiation balance and adjusting the global mean temperature for the Max Planck Institute Earth System Model (MPI-ESM). We demonstrate that considerable ambiguity exists in the choice of parameters, and present and compare three alternatively tuned, yet plausible configurations of the climate model. The impacts of parameter tuning on climate sensitivity was less than anticipated.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1029/2012MS000154