Global Warming Likely to Be More Severe Than Expected

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 7, 2017

That's according to a new study in the journal Nature, which predicts that global warming by the year 2100 could be up to 15% higher than the highest projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The prediction makes the already daunting challenge of capping global warming at "well under" 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) - the cornerstone goal of the 196-nation Paris Agreement - all the more hard, the authors said.

"Our results suggest that achieving any given global temperature stabilisation target will require steeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions than previously calculated", they wrote.

"There are dozens of prominent global climate models and they all project different amounts of global warming for a given change in greenhouse gas concentrations, primarily because there is not a consensus on how to best model some key aspects of the climate system", Patrick Brown, a climate scientist with the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a news release.

The researchers found that the most accurate models were the ones that predicted the most warming over the next century.

By factoring in decades of satellite observations which track how much sunlight gets bounced back into space, the study showed that the more alarming projections are clearly aligned with that data and the warming that has been measured so far.

"Our findings eliminate the lower end of this range", Brown said.

This variety of climate models is the reason long-term predictions tend to be all over the place, with some models predicting only a few degrees of warming while other models predict a lot more.

"But the bad news is that it will be warmer than we thought".

"If emissions follow a commonly used "business as usual" scenario, there is a 93 per cent chance that global warming will exceed four degrees Celsius by century's end", said co-author Ken Caldeira, also from Stanford.

But even if one assumes a more optimistic future in which humanity rapidly accelerates the global economy's transition from "brown" to "green" energy, the findings still apply, the authors cautioned.

This likelihood is an increase on past estimates, which placed it at 62 per cent.

Under the Paris agreement, which was created nearly exactly two years ago, 195 countries set a goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by cutting emissions.

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