Journal cover Journal topic
Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 2057-2116, 2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Model experiment description paper
31 May 2017
Historical greenhouse gas concentrations for climate modelling (CMIP6)
Malte Meinshausen1,2,3, Elisabeth Vogel1,2, Alexander Nauels1,2, Katja Lorbacher1,2, Nicolai Meinshausen4, David M. Etheridge5, Paul J. Fraser5, Stephen A. Montzka6, Peter J. Rayner2, Cathy M. Trudinger5, Paul B. Krummel5, Urs Beyerle7, Josep G. Canadell8, John S. Daniel9, Ian G. Enting10,*, Rachel M. Law5, Chris R. Lunder11, Simon O'Doherty12, Ron G. Prinn13, Stefan Reimann14, Mauro Rubino5,15, Guus J. M. Velders16, Martin K. Vollmer14, Ray H. J. Wang17, and Ray Weiss18 1Australian-German Climate & Energy College, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
2Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
3Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
4Seminar for Statistics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), Zurich, Switzerland
5CSIRO Climate Science Centre, Oceans and Atmosphere, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia
6NOAA, Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, Colorado, USA
7Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), Zurich, Switzerland
8Global Carbon Project, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Canberra, ACT, Australia
9NOAA, Earth System Research Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado, USA
10The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
11Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Kjeller, Norway
12University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
13MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
14Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Laboratory for Air Pollution and Environmental Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland
15Dipartimento di matematica e fisica, Seconda Università degli studi di Napoli, Caserta, Italy
16National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, the Netherlands
17School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
18Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, USA
Abstract. Atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations are at unprecedented, record-high levels compared to the last 800 000 years. Those elevated GHG concentrations warm the planet and – partially offset by net cooling effects by aerosols – are largely responsible for the observed warming over the past 150 years. An accurate representation of GHG concentrations is hence important to understand and model recent climate change. So far, community efforts to create composite datasets of GHG concentrations with seasonal and latitudinal information have focused on marine boundary layer conditions and recent trends since the 1980s. Here, we provide consolidated datasets of historical atmospheric concentrations (mole fractions) of 43 GHGs to be used in the Climate Model Intercomparison Project – Phase 6 (CMIP6) experiments. The presented datasets are based on AGAGE and NOAA networks, firn and ice core data, and archived air data, and a large set of published studies. In contrast to previous intercomparisons, the new datasets are latitudinally resolved and include seasonality. We focus on the period 1850–2014 for historical CMIP6 runs, but data are also provided for the last 2000 years. We provide consolidated datasets in various spatiotemporal resolutions for carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), as well as 40 other GHGs, namely 17 ozone-depleting substances, 11 hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), 9 perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and sulfuryl fluoride (SO2F2). In addition, we provide three equivalence species that aggregate concentrations of GHGs other than CO2, CH4 and N2O, weighted by their radiative forcing efficiencies. For the year 1850, which is used for pre-industrial control runs, we estimate annual global-mean surface concentrations of CO2 at 284.3 ppm, CH4 at 808.2 ppb and N2O at 273.0 ppb. The data are available at and While the minimum CMIP6 recommendation is to use the global- and annual-mean time series, modelling groups can also choose our monthly and latitudinally resolved concentrations, which imply a stronger radiative forcing in the Northern Hemisphere winter (due to the latitudinal gradient and seasonality).

Citation: Meinshausen, M., Vogel, E., Nauels, A., Lorbacher, K., Meinshausen, N., Etheridge, D. M., Fraser, P. J., Montzka, S. A., Rayner, P. J., Trudinger, C. M., Krummel, P. B., Beyerle, U., Canadell, J. G., Daniel, J. S., Enting, I. G., Law, R. M., Lunder, C. R., O'Doherty, S., Prinn, R. G., Reimann, S., Rubino, M., Velders, G. J. M., Vollmer, M. K., Wang, R. H. J., and Weiss, R.: Historical greenhouse gas concentrations for climate modelling (CMIP6), Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 2057-2116,, 2017.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Climate change is primarily driven by human-induced increases of greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. Based on ongoing community efforts (e.g. AGAGE and NOAA networks, ice cores), this study presents historical concentrations of CO2, CH4, N2O and 40 other GHGs from year 0 to year 2014. The data is recommended as input for climate models for pre-industrial, historical runs under CMIP6. Global means, but also latitudinal by monthly surface concentration fields are provided.
Climate change is primarily driven by human-induced increases of greenhouse gas (GHG)...