Quantifying uncertainties in climate system properties with the use of recent climate observations

Chris E. Forest, Peter H. Stone, Andrei P. Sokolov, Myles R. Allen, Mort D. Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

330 Scopus citations


We derive joint probability density distributions for three key uncertain properties of the climate system, using an optimal fingerprinting approach to compare simulations of an intermediate complexity climate model with three distinct diagnostics of recent climate observations. On the basis of the marginal probability distributions, the 5 to 95% confidence intervals are 1.4 to 7.7 kelvin for climate sensitivity and -0.30 to -0.95 watt per square meter for the net aerosol forcing. The oceanic heat uptake is not well constrained, but ocean temperature observations do help to constrain climate sensitivity. The uncertainty in the net aerosol forcing is much smaller than the uncertainty range for the indirect aerosol forcing alone given in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-117
Number of pages5
Issue number5552
Publication statusPublished - Jan 4 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this