Earth’s global surface temperature shows variability on an extended range of temporal scales and satisfies an emergent scaling symmetry. Recent studies indicate that scale invariance is not only a feature of the observed temperature fluctuations, but an inherent property of the temperature response to radiative forcing, and a principle that links the fast and slow climate responses. It provides a bridge between the decadal- and centennial-scale fluctuations in the instrumental temperature record, and the millennial-scale equilibration following perturbations in the radiative balance. In particular, the emergent scale invariance makes it possible to infer equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) from the observed relation between radiative forcing and global temperature in the instrumental era. This is verified in ensembles of Earth system models (ESMs), where the inferred values of ECS correlate strongly to estimates from idealized model runs. For the range of forcing data explored in this paper, the method gives best estimates of ECS between 1.8 and 3.7 K, but statistical uncertainties in the best estimates themselves will provide a wider likely range of the ECS.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited