Sci-tech

90% chance temperatures will increase by two to 4.9 Celsius by 2100

90% chance temperatures will increase by two to 4.9 Celsius by 2100

If carbon emissions continue unabated then we will face warming of up to 2 degrees by the end of this century.

In determining the warming trajectories, the authors focused on three main factors underpinning future greenhouse gas emissions: total world population, gross domestic product per person, and the amount of carbon emitted for each dollar of economic activity, known as carbon intensity. This would put the world in the mid-range warming scenarios mapped out by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

There's only a 5 percent chance of limiting warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, according to a forecast drawn from a statistical analysis of 150 countries' population and economic growth. Using statistical projections for these quantities based on global data gathered over the last half century, they found a median value of 3.2°C (5.8 F) warming by 2100, and a 90 percent chance that warming this century will fall between 2.0 to 4.9°C (3.6 to 8.8 F).

"Our estimates are based on things that have already happened, things we can observe, and they point to the part of future warming that is already committed to by past emissions", said lead author Thorsten Mauritsen, from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.

"It is achievable, but only with major, sustained effort on all fronts over the next 80 years", said Raftery, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. There's a 99 per cent chance that climate change will break through that limit.

"This is due to the fact that much of the expected future population growth will be in Africa, in countries whose carbon emissions are now very low", Raftery said.

And 1.5 degrees was no arbitrary threshold: "Countries argued for the 1.5 C target because of the severe impacts on their livelihoods that would result from exceeding that threshold".

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"Our results show that an abrupt change of course is needed to achieve these goals", said Frierson.

President Trump's decision to yank the United States from the Paris climate agreement spurred a rallying cry from environmentalists committed to meeting the accord's goals anyway.

Climate change is often associated with impending dangers such as heat stress, severe storms, flooding, inhibited access to clean water and food, and the spread of infectious diseases.

Mauritsen, author of the second study, noted that even though Carbon dioxide has a long lifetime in the atmosphere, the ocean's absorption capacity could reduce estimates of global warming by 0.2 degrees C. Mauritsen and his co-author, Robert Pincus, arrived at an estimated warming of 1.3 degrees by 2100, along with the estimated ocean factor of 1.1 degrees C.

The world's population is expected to grow to about 11 billion people by 2100, but the research found that this will have a relatively small impact upon temperatures as much of this growth will take place in sub-Saharan Africa, which is a minor contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.

Global carbon emission projections through the year 2100, per year (left) and cumulative (right).

The biggest factor was found to be carbon intensity, which has been dropping in recent years due to increased energy efficiency across industries. Two years ago, representatives from 195 countries around the world reached an historic worldwide agreement to combat the effects of global warming; then-President Barack Obama was among the world leaders who agreed.


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