Showing posts with label model. Show all posts
Showing posts with label model. Show all posts

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How much will temperatures rise?

If we take the NASA Annual Mean Land-Ocean Temperatures and draw a projection into the future, temperatures will quickly be 3 degrees Celsius higher than the base period (1951-1980), i.e. well before 2050, as illustrated on image 1. below. 

Image 1. Temperatures will be 3 degrees Celsius higher well before 2050

Above projection appears to be steeper than even the worst-case scenario pictured by the IPCC for years, such as on the image below.

Image 2. from IPCC 2001. Projections of globally averaged surface temperature 2000-2100 are shown for six SRES scenarios and IS92a using a model with average climate sensitivity. The grey region marked "several models all SRES envelope" shows the range of results from the full range of 35 SRES scenarios in addition to those from a range of models with different climate sensitivities. The temperature scale is departure from the 1990 value.
Could temperatures rise faster in future than what the IPCC anticipated in 2001? The answer must be yes! In 2007, the IPCC described that, even if greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere were stabilized for 100 years at year 2000 values (B1), then we would still be committed to a further warming of 0.5°Celsius. This committed warming should not be confused with ‘unavoidable climate change’ over the next half century, which would be greater because forcing cannot be instantly stabilized. And of course, as it turned out, emissions have not been stabilized at 2000 values, but have in fact increased substantially.

As it turned out, the models used by the IPCC made all kinds of assumptions that didn't eventuate. But before deciding to instead settle for a relatively simple extrapolation of observed data, there are some issues that require a further look.  

As discussed in the earlier post Accelerated Arctic Warming, temperatures in the Arctic have been rising at a much faster pace than global temperatures, and if this accelerated rise continues, we can expect a 10 degrees Celsius rise in the Arctic before 2040, as illustrated by image 3. below.  

Image 3. Three kinds of warming - 2: Accelerated warming in the Arctic 
Such a temperature rise in the Arctic will undoubtedly lead to additional greenhouse gas emissions in the Arctic, of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and particularly methane, threatening to trigger runaway global warming. 

The image below, from the methane-hydrates blog, combines these three kinds of warming, showing global temperatures that soon catch up with accelerated Arctic warming, as heatwaves at high latitudes will cause wildfires, in particular in Siberia, where firestorms in peat-lands, tundras and forests could release huge amounts of emissions, including soot, much of which could settle on the Himalayan plateau, darkening the ice and snow and resulting in more local heat absorption. Rapid melt of glaciers will then cause flooding at first, followed by dramatic decreases in the flow of river water that up to a billion people now depend on for water supply and irrigation.

In other words, the situation looks much more dire than what most models make us believe; the more reason to adopt the climate plan that is also described at the post at the methane-hydrates blog.

Image 4. Three kinds of warming - 1, 2 and 3 


References

- IPCC (TAR) - Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report

- IPCC (AR4) - Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis

- Accelerated Arctic Warming

- Methane hydrates