Nav: Home

High chance that current atmospheric GHGs commit to warmings greater than 1.5C over land

July 27, 2016

Current levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations already commit the planet to air temperatures over many land regions being eventually warmed by greater than 1.5°C, according to new research published today (27 July 2016) in the journal Scientific Reports.

The results of the new study have implications for international discussions of what constitutes safe global temperature thresholds, such as 1.5°C or 2°C of warming since pre-industrial times. The expected extra warming over land will influence how we need to design some cities. It could also impact on the responses of trees and plants, and including crops.

The research was carried out by scientists from the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the University of Exeter, UK.

The research team found two main reasons behind the result.

First, even if it was possible to keep carbon dioxide concentrations fixed at their current 400 parts-per-million concentration levels, then the planet would continue to warm towards new equilibrium higher temperatures. At present, the climate is out of equilibrium, with the oceans drawing down very large amounts of heat from the atmosphere. However this will decline as the planet is bought towards a stable climatic state.

Second, warming rates over land are far higher than those when averaged globally which include temperatures over the oceans. This is a feature observed in meteorological measurements and reproduced across a large suite of climate models.

Lead author Dr Chris Huntingford from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, "It would certainly be inappropriate to create any additional fear over climate change. However, what this paper does is re-iterate that the oceans are currently acting as a very strong sink of heat. Even if carbon dioxide was somehow stabilised at current levels, additional warming will occur as we move towards an equilibrium climate state. Furthermore, both data and computer models all indicate enhanced temperatures over land, compared to global mean warming that includes temperatures over the oceans."

Co-author Dr Lina Mercado, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Exeter, said, "Our findings suggest that we are committed to land temperatures in excess of 1.5°C across many regions at present-day levels of greenhouses gases. It is therefore imperative to understand its consequences for our health, infrastructure and ecosystem services upon which we all rely."

Dr Chris Huntingford added, "Central to our methodology is analysis of predictions made by a large number of independent climate research centres from around the world. Although many simulations exist for climate stabilisation, these tend to be at future higher greenhouse gas concentrations. We were able to scale these back to see the warming levels we are already committed to, even if present-day concentrations increased no further. Such computer models capture how the ocean heat sink would be slowly lost as a stable climate is approached, implying that temperatures would continue to increase temporarily even if greenhouse concentrations were fixed at current levels."
-end-
This research was funded by the NERC National Capability fund.

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate change scientists should think more about sex
Climate change can have a different impact on male and female fish, shellfish and other marine animals, with widespread implications for the future of marine life and the production of seafood.
Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior
A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The psychology behind climate change denial
In a new thesis in psychology, Kirsti Jylhä at Uppsala University has studied the psychology behind climate change denial.

Related Climate Change Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...