Equilibrium and instantaneous climate sensitivity distributions. (A) Distribution of ECS from 5000 posterior draws of our Bayesian fit to each of 24 GCMs (indicated by colors). Aggregating across the posterior draws for all GCMs yields a median of 3.4°C and a 5 to 95% CI of 2.2° to 6.1°C. (B) Similar to (A) but for instantaneous climate sensitivity. ICS is obtained by applying AR5 historical forcing to our Bayesian fits and has a median of 2.5°C and a 5 to 95% CI of 1.6° to 4.2°C. The range of ICS values estimated in historical studies (vertical dashed black lines) (8) bracket the most likely GCM values, demonstrating consistency between observational and GCM results when they are appropriately compared. Graphic: Proistosescu and Huybers, 2017 / Science Advances

By Damian Carrington
5 July 2017

(The Guardian) – Hopes that the world’s huge carbon emissions might not drive temperatures up to dangerous levels have been dashed by new research.

The work shows that temperature rises measured over recent decades do not fully reflect the global warming already in the pipeline and that the ultimate heating of the planet could be even worse than feared.

How much global temperatures rise for a certain level of carbon emissions is called climate sensitivity and is seen as the single most important measure of climate change. Computer models have long indicated a high level of sensitivity, up to 4.5C for a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere.

However in recent years estimates of climate sensitivity based on historical temperature records from the past century or so have suggested the response might be no more than 3C. This would mean the planet could be kept safe with lower cuts in emissions, which are easier to achieve.

But the new work, using both models and paleoclimate data from warming periods in the Earth’s past, shows that the historical temperature measurements do not reveal the slow heating of the planet’s oceans that takes place for decades or centuries after CO2 has been added to the atmosphere.

“The hope was that climate sensitivity was lower and the Earth is not going to warm as much,” said Cristian Proistosescu, at Harvard University in the US, who led the new research. “There was this wave of optimism.”

The new research, published in the journal Science Advances, has ended that. “The worrisome part is that all the models show there is an amplification of the amount of warming in the future,” he said. The situation might be even worse, as Proistosescu’s work shows climate sensitivity could be as high as 6C. [more]

Hopes of mild climate change dashed by new research


By Leah Burrows
5 July 2017

(Harvard Gazette) – Harvard University researchers have resolved a conflict in estimates of how much the Earth will warm in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

That conflict — between temperature ranges based on global climate models and paleoclimate records and ranges generated from historical observations — prevented the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from providing a best estimate in its most recent report for how much doubled CO2 emissions will warm the Earth.

The researchers found that the low range of temperature increase — between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius — offered by historical observations did not take into account long-term warming patterns. When these patterns are introduced, the researchers found that not only do temperatures fall within the canonical range of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius but that even higher ranges, perhaps up to 6 degrees, may also be possible.

The research is published in Science Advances.

It is well documented that different parts of the planet warm at different speeds. The land over the northern hemisphere, for example, warms significantly faster than water in the Southern Ocean.

“The historical pattern of warming is that most of the warming has occurred over land, in particular over the northern hemisphere,” said Cristian Proistosescu, Ph.D ’17, the first author of the paper. “This pattern of warming is known as the fast mode — you put CO2 in the atmosphere and very quickly after that, the land in the northern hemisphere is going to warm.”

But there is also a slow mode of warming, which can take centuries to realize. That warming, which is most associated with the Southern Ocean and the Eastern Equatorial Pacific, comes with positive feedback loops that amplify the process. For example, as the oceans warm, cloud cover decreases, and a white reflecting surface is replaced with a dark absorbent surface.

The researchers developed a mathematical model to parse the two modes within different climate models.

“The models simulate a warming pattern like today’s, but indicate that strong feedbacks kick in when the Southern Ocean and Eastern Equatorial Pacific eventually warm, leading to higher overall temperatures than would simply be extrapolated from the warming seen to date,” said Peter Huybers, professor of Earth and planetary sciences in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, and of environmental science and engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the co-author of the paper.

Huybers and Proistosescu found that while the slow mode of warming contributes a great deal to the ultimate amount of global warming, it is barely present in present-day warming patterns. “Historical observations give us a lot of insight into how climate changes and are an important test of our climate models,” said Huybers, “but there is no perfect analogue for the changes that are coming.”

This study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Reconciling predictions of climate change


ABSTRACT: The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report widened the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) range from 2° to 4.5°C to an updated range of 1.5° to 4.5°C in order to account for the lack of consensus between estimates based on models and historical observations. The historical ECS estimates range from 1.5° to 3°C and are derived assuming a linear radiative response to warming. A Bayesian methodology applied to 24 models, however, documents curvature in the radiative response to warming from an evolving contribution of interannual to centennial modes of radiative response. Centennial modes display stronger amplifying feedbacks and ultimately contribute 28 to 68% (90% credible interval) of equilibrium warming, yet they comprise only 1 to 7% of current warming. Accounting for these unresolved centennial contributions brings historical records into agreement with model-derived ECS estimates.

Slow climate mode reconciles historical and model-based estimates of climate sensitivity

2 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    When I die, the only thing that will make me happy is the knowledge that I have made the planet a worse place because of my existence.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    6C isn't survivable. That's game over for life on Earth. Even 4.5C means collapse of civilization. And the discussion of emissions being cut really means ALL emissions, which also means collapse of civilization.

    The work on this has already been done years ago, but zero reporters are picking up on this, which means the public has virtually no idea at all what will happen. So the world goes on, blithely unaware of the global emergency. There is no urgency, no alarm, no demands. "Yeah, the planet is warming, so what"? is the general attitude.

    By and large, I continue to blame the media for their utter failure. If the public was truly informed and alarmed, maybe we could try a lot harder. But as it is, to date, the media is woefully failing in its job to keep us properly informed on something of such great urgency and need. Extinction is forever. ~Survival Acres~  

 

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