Local Climate Sensitivity: A Statistical Approach for a Spatially Heterogeneous Planet

Working Paper Number: 
WP 17-02

Climate sensitivity relates total radiative forcing from anthropogenic and other sources to global mean temperature, and it depends on both changes in net heat transports and changes in the spatial distribution of temperature anomalies. An energy balance model, an easily implemented statistical methodology, and a supplementary inferential procedure are proposed to estimate local climate sensitivity using the historical record and to assess the contribution to overall climate sensitivity. Results are roughly comparable with extant findings from simulations using more complicated models. In particular, areas over ocean tend to import energy, they are relatively more sensitive to forcings, but they warm more slowly than those over land. Increases in the variation of predicted local temperature anomalies are estimated to be proportional to increases in forcings, and economic implications are discussed.

JEL Codes: 
C14, C23, Q54