Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 224
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

Chapter 8 - Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing


Executive Summary

It is unequivocal that anthropogenic increases in the well-mixed greenhouse gases (WMGHGs) have substantially enhanced the greenhouse effect, and the resulting forcing continues to increase. Aerosols partially offset the forcing of the WMGHGs and dominate the uncertainty associated with the total anthropogenic driving of climate change.

As in previous IPCC assessments, AR5 uses the radiative forcing (RF) concept, but it also introduces effective radiative forcing (ERF). The RF concept has been used for many years and in previous IPCC assessments for evaluating and comparing the strength of the various mechanisms affecting the Earth's radiation balance and thus causing climate change. Whereas in the RF concept all surface and tropospheric conditions are kept fixed, the ERF calculations presented here allow all physical variables to respond to perturbations except for those concerning the ocean and sea ice. The inclusion of these adjustments makes ERF a better indicator of the eventual temperature response. ERF and RF values are significantly different for anthropogenic aerosols owing to their influence on clouds and on snow cover. These changes to clouds are rapid adjustments and occur on a time scale much faster than responses of the ocean (even the upper layer) to forcing. RF and ERF are estimated over the Industrial Era from 1750 to 2011 if other periods are not explicitly stated.