• Peer-Reviewed
Climatic Change · 2006

Elicitation of Expert Judgments of Aerosol Forcing

M. Granger Morgan, Peter J. Adams, and David W. Keith

A group of twenty-four leading atmospheric and climate scientists provided subjective probability distributions that represent their current judgment about the value of planetary average direct and indirect radiative forcing from anthropogenic aerosols at the top of the atmosphere. Separate estimates were obtained for the direct aerosol effect, the semi-direct aerosol effect, cloud brightness (first aerosol indirect effect), and cloud lifetime/distribution (second aerosol indirect effect). Estimates were also obtained for total planetary average forcing at the top of the atmosphere and for surface forcing. Consensus was strongest among the experts in their assessments of the direct aerosol effect and the cloud brightness indirect effect. Forcing from the semi-direct effect was thought to be small (absolute values of all but one of the experts’ best estimates were ≤0.5 W/m²). There was not agreement about the sign of the best estimate of the semi-direct effect, and the uncertainty ranges some experts gave for this effect did not overlap those given by others. All best estimates of total aerosol forcing were negative, with values ranging between −0.25 W/m² and −2.1 W/m². The range of uncertainty that a number of experts associated with their estimates, especially those for total aerosol forcing and for surface forcing, was often much larger than that suggested in 2001 by the IPCC Working Group 1 summary figure (IPCC, 2001).

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