EGU21-7717, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Reduced global warming from CMIP6 projections when weighting models by performance and independence

Lukas Brunner1, Angeline G. Pendergrass2, Flavio Lehner2, Anna L. Merrifield1, Ruth Lorenz1, and Reto Knutti1
Lukas Brunner et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (
  • 2Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

To extract reliable estimates of future warming and related uncertainties from multi model ensembles such as CMIP6, the spread in their projections is often translated into probabilistic estimates such as the mean and likely range. Here, we use a model weighting approach, which accounts for the CMIP6 models' historical performance as well as their interdependence, to calculate constrained distributions of global mean temperature change.

We investigate the skill of our approach in a perfect model test framework, where we use previous-generation CMIP5 models as pseudo-observations in the historical period. The performance of the distribution weighted in the abovementioned manner with respect to matching the pseudo-observations in the future is then evaluated, and we find a mean increase in skill of about 17 % compared with the unweighted distribution. In addition, we show that our independence metric correctly clusters models known to be similar based on a CMIP6 “family tree”, which enables the application of a weighting based on the degree of inter-model dependence.

We then apply the weighting approach, based on two observational estimates, to constrain CMIP6 projections. Our results show a reduction in the projected mean warmingbecause some CMIP6 models with high future warming receive systematically lower performance weights. The mean of end-of-century warming (2081–2100 relative to 1995–2014) for SSP5-8.5 with weighting is 3.7°C, compared with 4.1°C without weighting; the likely (66%) uncertainty range is 3.1 to 4.6°C, which equates to a 13 % decrease in spread.

How to cite: Brunner, L., Pendergrass, A. G., Lehner, F., Merrifield, A. L., Lorenz, R., and Knutti, R.: Reduced global warming from CMIP6 projections when weighting models by performance and independence, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7717,, 2021.

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