IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity

Over the last few years, a range of climate models has been developed that are dynamically simpler and of lower resolution than comprehensive AOGCMs, although they might well be more ‘complete’ in terms of climate system components that are included. The class of such models, usually referred to as EMICs (Claussen et al., 2002), is very heterogeneous, ranging from zonally averaged ocean models coupled to energy balance models (Stocker et al., 1992a) or to statistical-dynamical models of the atmosphere (Petoukhov et al., 2000), to low resolution three-dimensional ocean models, coupled to energy balance or simple dynamical models of the atmosphere (Opsteegh et al., 1998; Edwards and Marsh, 2005; Müller et al., 2006). Some EMICs have a radiation code and prescribe greenhouse gases, while others use simplified equations to project radiative forcing from projected concentrations and abundances (Joos et al., 2001; see Chapter 2 and the TAR, Appendix II, Table II.3.11). Compared to comprehensive models, EMICs have hardly any computational constraints, and therefore many simulations can be performed. This allows for the creation of large ensembles, or the systematic exploration of long-term changes many centuries hence. However, because of the reduced resolution, only results at the largest scales (continental to global) are to be interpreted (Stocker and Knutti, 2003). Table 8.3 lists all EMICs used in this section, including their components and resolution.

A set of simulations is used to compare EMICs with AOGCMs for the SRES A1B scenario with stable atmospheric concentrations after year 2100 (see Section 10.7.2). For global mean temperature and sea level, the EMICs generally reproduce the AOGCM behaviour quite well. Two of the EMICs have values for climate sensitivity and transient response below the AOGCM range. However, climate sensitivity is a tuneable parameter in some EMICs, and no attempt was made here to match the range of response of the AOGCMs. The transient reduction of the MOC in most EMICs is also similar to the AOGCMs (see also Sections 10.3.4 and 10.7.2 and Figure 10.34), providing support that this class of models can be used for both long-term commitment projections (see Section 10.7) and probabilistic projections involving hundreds to thousands of simulations (see Section If the forcing is strong enough, and lasts long enough (e.g., 4 × CO2), a complete and irreversible collapse of the MOC can be induced in a few models. This is in line with earlier results using EMICs (Stocker and Schmittner, 1997; Rahmstorf and Ganopolski, 1999) or a coupled model (Stouffer and Manabe, 1999).