Observed climate change constrains the likelihood of extreme future global warming

Article English OPEN
Stott, Peter A. ; Huntingford, Chris ; Jones, Chris D. ; Kettleborough, Jamie A. (2011)
  • Publisher: Tellus B
  • Journal: Tellus B (issn: 1600-0889, eissn: 0280-6509)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/tellusb.v60i1.16898
  • Subject:
    mesheuropmc: respiratory system | complex mixtures

If cooling due to present-day levels of atmospheric aerosol is suppressing global temperatures, future reductions in aerosols emissions would allow the full greenhouse gas induced warming to be realised. The many uncertainties in aerosol physics and chemistry mean that a large range of present-day aerosol cooling is possible which could imply a large climate sensitivity, extremely large future warming and the increased risk of catastrophic consequences. Despite large uncertainties in aerosol physics and chemistry, observed spatial and temporal patterns of past temperature change allow quantitative assessment of the strength of present-day aerosol cooling. Such observational constraints provide a probabilistic framework in which to assess the likelihood of extremely large warming if a very large suppression of global warming by aerosols were to be removed. The likelihoods of future warming extents are calculated assuming four scenarios of future anthropogenic emissions. While such results are still subject to uncertainty, they indicate that future warming by the end of the 21st century is likely to be between the extremes implied by very strong or very weak present-day aerosol cooling. It is very likely that present-day aerosol cooling is suppressing a major portion of current greenhouse warming.DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2007.00329.x
  • References (20)
    20 references, page 1 of 2

    Allen, M. R., Stott, P. A., Mitchell, J. F. B., Schnur, R. and Delworth, T. 2000. Quantifying the uncertainty in forecasts of anthropogenic climate change. Nature 407, 617-620.

    Anderson, T. L., Charlson, R. J., Schwartz, S. E., Knutti, R., Boucher, O. and co-authors. 2003. Climate forcings by aerosols-a hazy picture. Science 300, 1103-1104.

    Andreae, M. O., Jones, C. D. and Cox, P. M. 2005. Strong present-day aerosol cooling implies a hot future. Nature 435, 1187-1190.

    Andronova, N. G. and Schlesinger, M. E. 2001. Objective estimation of the probability density function for climate sensitivity. J. Geophys. Res. 106(D19), 22605-22611.

    Brohan, P., Kennedy, J. J., Harris, I., Tett, S. F. B. and Jones, P. D. 2006. Uncertainty estimates in regional and global observed temperature changes: a new data set from 1850. J. Geophys. Res. 111, doi:10.1029/2005JD006548.

    Forest, C. E., Stone, P. H. and Sokolov, A. P. 2006. Estimated PDFs of climate system properties including natural and anthropogenic forcings. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L01705.

    Friedlingstein, P., Cox, P., Betts, R., Bopp, L., Von Bloh, W. and coauthors. 2006. Climate-carbon cycle feedback analysis: Results from the (CMIP)-M-4 model intercomparison. J. Climate 19, 3337-3353.

    Gregory, J. M., Stouffer, R., Raper, S., Stott, P. A. and Rayner, N. 2002. An observationally based estimate of the climate sensitivity. J Climate 15, 3117-3211.

    Hegerl, G. C., Zwiers, F. W., Braconnot, P., Gillett, N. P., Luo, Y. and co-authors. 2007. Understanding and attributing climate change. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (eds S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, and co-editors), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

    IDAG. 2006. Detecting and attributing external influences on the climate system: a review of recent advances. J. Climate 18, 1291-1314.

  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark