Summary

We recommend that the community quantify the effects of aerosols on climate using the concept of radiative flux perturbations, known in the literature as quasi-forcing or fixed-SST forcing. Although extremely useful for well-mixed greenhouse gases, the concept of forcing has limited utility and conceptual rigor when applied to cloud-aerosol interactions. Since the comparison of forcings from various radiative species has been very useful for scientific and policy-oriented applications, we recommend, in addition, that the community compute the effects of all anthropogenic agents using the radiative flux perturbation approach. The traditional IPCC bar chart for forcings could be complemented by a corresponding bar chart for radiative flux perturbations. The application of the flux perturbation concept includes the advantage of a more intuitive observational assessment possibility, a tighter definition of feedbacks as a pure response to surface temperature warming, and a more plausible definition of aerosol effects.

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