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Parametric Study of Prompt Methane Release Impacts II: Effect of a Dynamic Ocean on Model Results
  • PattiMichelle Sheaffer
PattiMichelle Sheaffer
Aerospace Corp (ret.), Aerospace Corp (ret.), Aerospace Corp (ret.), Aerospace Corp (ret.), Aerospace Corp (ret.), Aerospace Corp (ret.)

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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A unique event in 2020 was the nearly complete lack of ice cover on the shallow Kara Sea and Laptev Sea continental shelves at the end of October – a necessary antecedent to hypothesized continental-shelf clathrate methane releases’ runaway-warming feedback (not well-addressed in AR5). Although the current state of coupled Atmosphere/Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) is such that they cannot reliably predict resulting weather-pattern changes in detail, a potential lower-bound for the overall impact of such releases can be explored on a decadal scale; impact is an important factor in risk-assessment. Previous work* with a prescribed-ocean, atmospheric circulation model suggested a 0.01 C global temperature increase per gigaton of additional atmospheric methane burden. The inclusion of a coupled dynamic ocean model in the present work resulted in a tripling of that estimate to about 0.03 C global warming per gigaton increase in atmospheric methane burden. Additionally, much larger Arctic responses were observed when specifying model changes chosen to approximate increased cloud brightness over the Arctic ocean. In this work, the AR5 RCP8.5 GHG scenario was chosen as the baseline in order to most faithfully represent current and anticipated trends over the relatively short time period investigated here (i.e., 2020 – 2040). After an extended model spin-up, the model global mean temperature was constant for two decades of integration using a constant model-year (2019), and closely reproduced the mean warming rate reported for this time period in the AR5 data when run in baseline RCP8.5 transient-mode over the subject time period. As is typical for the AOGCM used in this work (AR5 GISS ModelE2.0 07.50.01), the modeled Arctic sea-ice losses were less than is currently observed in the real-world; hence, the results presented here are regarded as no more than a lower bound to the magnitude of expected climatic responses to such a release. *[essoar.org/doi/10.1002/essoar.10503094.1 (2019)]