Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate Sensitivity May Be Higher Than Many Think, Researchers Say

Date:
June 5, 2001
Source:
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
In the wake of mounting evidence of global warming, decision-makers are wrestling with related policy issues. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois have shown that the probability of severe climate change is much greater than many scientists or policy-makers had thought.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In the wake of mounting evidence of global warming, decision-makers are wrestling with related policy issues. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois have shown that the probability of severe climate change is much greater than many scientists or policy-makers had thought. "The size and impacts of anthropogenically induced climate change strongly depend on the climate sensitivity – the change in equilibrium surface warming due to a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," said Michael Schlesinger, a UI atmospheric scientist. "According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the climate sensitivity lies between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Centigrade."

Related Articles


If the climate sensitivity is less than 1.5 degrees Centigrade, then climate change may not be a serious problem, Schlesinger said. "If, however, the climate sensitivity is greater than the IPCC’s upper bound, then climate change may be one of humanity’s most severe problems of the 21st century. By judging the likelihood of the climate sensitivity having any particular value – that is, by its probability density function – the crafting of robust adaptive climate-change policy could be greatly facilitated."

Schlesinger and UI atmospheric scientist Natalia Andronova used a simple climate/ocean model and the near-surface temperature record to estimate the probability density function for climate sensitivity. They considered 16 radiative-forcing models, which included such factors as greenhouse gases, anthropogenic sulfate aerosol, solar irradiance and volcanoes. For each model, the changes in global-mean near-surface temperature were calculated for the years 1765 through 1997.

The researchers found that, as a result of natural variability and uncertainty in the radiative forcing, the climate sensitivity could lie between 1 and 10 degrees Centigrade. "Consequently, there is a 54 percent likelihood that the climate sensitivity lies outside the IPCC range," Schlesinger said. "Our results show that the probability density function very strongly depends on which radiative forcing factors have actually been at work during the period of the temperature measurements," he said. "At present, the most likely scenario is one that includes anthropogenic sulfate aerosol forcing but not solar variation. Although the value of the climate sensitivity in that case is most uncertain, there is a 70 percent chance that it exceeds the maximum IPCC value. This is not good news."

One way to reduce the uncertainty of which probability distribution is the appropriate one to use in impact and policy studies is "to determine whether the sun’s irradiance has actually changed during the past 150 years," Andronova said. "Another way would be to consider the net radiative forcing of all the anthropogenic aerosols, not just the sulfate aerosol."

A paper discussing the researchers’ findings has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research. The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy supported the work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Climate Sensitivity May Be Higher Than Many Think, Researchers Say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010605075634.htm>.
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. (2001, June 5). Climate Sensitivity May Be Higher Than Many Think, Researchers Say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010605075634.htm
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Climate Sensitivity May Be Higher Than Many Think, Researchers Say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010605075634.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins