To understand and reduce the long-standing uncertainty in anthropogenic aerosol radiative forcing

The ultimate aim of the FORCeS project is to understand and reduce the long-standing uncertainty in anthropogenic aerosol radiative forcing. This is crucial if we are to increase confidence in climate projections

The ultimate aim of the FORCeS project is to understand and reduce the long-standing uncertainty in anthropogenic aerosol radiative forcing. This is crucial if we are to increase confidence in climate projections.

FORCeS will identify key processes governing aerosol radiative forcing, as well as climate feedbacks related to aerosols and clouds, and improve the knowledge about these processes by bringing together leading European scientists

FORCeS reaches out to decision-makers and stakeholders and provides added-value information through workshops where climate science and climate policy experts meet to achieve maximum impact.

The challenge​

The Paris Agreement (PA), adopted within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015, requires the majority of the world’s countries to limit global warming from anthropogenic activities within 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The actions needed to reach this goal, and the urgency and effectiveness of their implementation, rely crucially on accurately predicting the time-evolution of radiative forcing and the resulting climate response . Uncertainty in simulating the components of the atmosphere, especially those related to aerosol, clouds and their interactions severely hampers our ability to understand the past and project future climate change. This is because anthropogenic aerosols exert a net cooling impact on climate that offsets – but with large uncertainty – part of the warming effect from greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the time left for achieving the necessary greenhouse gas reductions to achieve the PA target, and our understanding of the expected regional impacts of climate change, are hampered by the inability to robustly quantify the anthropogenic climate forcing associated with aerosols. In particular, the anticipated large reductions in aerosol emissions in the coming decades will result in a warming effect that is currently very poorly quantified. It is therefore crucial to establish the extent to which aerosol changes, whether due to anthropogenic emissions or as a feedback induced by warming, offset greenhouse gas warming.

Project objectives

  • To understand and reduce the long-standing uncertainty in anthropogenic aerosol radiative forcing, which is crucial in order to increase confidence in climate projections.
  • FORCeS will identify key processes governing aerosol radiative forcing, as well as climate feedbacks related to aerosols and clouds, and improve the knowledge about these processes by bringing together leading European scientists with trans-disciplinary expertise to
  • exploit the wealth of in-situ and remote sensing data that have emerged during the recent decades;
  • perform dedicated laboratory and field experiments;
  • utilize a range of state-of-the-art computational models; and
  • apply novel theoretical methods including machine learning techniques.
  • The process analysis within FORCeS will be conducted with the overall aim of improving a set of leading European climate models, which all provide essential information to climate assessments such as the IPCC report.
  • FORCeS will reach out to decision makers and stakeholders and provide added-value information through e.g. workshops where climate science and climate policy experts meet to achieve maximum impact.