The Most Catastrophic Climate Predictions Are Seen as the Most Probable
New scientific research shows that by the end of this century, the most catastrophic outcome of global warming is also the most likely to occur, making large areas of the planet virtually unbearable.
Researchers from Australia and France say the planet’s overall temperature will increase by 4 degrees Celsius (or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. That is double the level that world governments agree would be dangerous.
“4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous,” the study’s lead researcher, Professor Steven Sherwood at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told The Guardian. “For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet.”
The latter development would cause sea levels to rise by several meters, causing permanent flooding in low-lying areas along coastlines.
Sherwood said the research reveals how climate change is impacting clouds, and consequently, increasing the likelihood of higher air temperatures in the coming decades.
The warming of the planet results in fewer clouds, which in turn allows for less sunlight to be reflected by clouds back out toward space, causing temperatures to rise even more.
“This study breaks new ground twice: first by identifying what is controlling the cloud changes and second by strongly discounting the lowest estimates of future global warming in favor of the higher and more damaging estimates,” he said.
The conclusions derived by the study address several arguments made by climate change deniers. “Climate sceptics like to criticize climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect,” Sherwood told the newspaper. “But what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by the models which predict less warming, not those that predict more.
“Sceptics may also point to the 'hiatus' of temperatures since the end of the 20th century,” he added, “but there is increasing evidence that this inaptly named hiatus is not seen in other measures of the climate system, and is almost certainly temporary.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
Planet Likely to Warm by 4C by 2100, Scientists Warn (by Damian Carrington, The Guardian)
Spread in Model Climate Sensitivity Traced to Atmospheric Convective Mixing (by Steven C. Sherwood, Sandrine Bony and Jean-Louis Dufresne, Nature) (abstract)
50,000 Plant and Animal Species Threatened by Loss of Their Natural Habitats from Climate Change (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
Acidification of Oceans Caused by Climate Change to Last Tens of Thousands of Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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