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Climate sensitivity

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In Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the equilibrium change in global mean surface temperature following a doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) CO2 concentration. This value is estimated, by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report as likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values. This is a slight change from the IPCC Third Assessment Report, which said it was "likely to be in the range of 1.5 to 4.5°C" [1]. More generally, equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the equilibrium change in surface air temperature following a unit change in radiative forcing, expressed in units of °C/(W/m2). In practice, the evaluation of the equilibrium climate sensitivity from models requires very long simulations with coupled global climate models, or it may be deduced from observations.

Climate sensitivity is not the same as the expected climate change at, say 2100: the TAR reports this to be an increase of 1.4 to 5.8°C over 1990.

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