Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Worst case scenario: Can we adapt to a world 2 to 4 degrees warmer?

Date:
November 30, 2010
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
Potentially dangerous rates of global warming could outpace the ability of ecosystems and artificial infrastructure to adapt, experts warn.

Oxford scientists have contributed to a series of research papers about the impacts of global warming to coincide with the opening of the Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

One study, led by Niel Bowerman of the Oxford University's Department of Physics, warns that the conference will fail to meet its objectives unless it addresses not just how much the planet warms, but also how fast it warms. Potentially dangerous rates of global warming could outpace the ability of ecosystems and artificial infrastructure to adapt, it argues.

The papers are in a special report 'Four degrees and beyond: the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and its implications' published Nov. 29 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.

Bowerman's study shows that to achieve their aims, negotiators must limit the maximum global emission rate as well as the total amount of carbon emitted through to 2200. He explains: 'Many people think that the reason why emissions need to peak soon is to save the climate of the 22nd century, but our research highlights a more immediate reason. We need to start cutting emissions soon to avoid potentially dangerous rates of warming within our lifetimes, and to avoid committing ourselves to potentially unfeasible rates of emission reduction in a couple of decade's time.'

'Peak warming is determined by the total amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere, not the rate we release it in any given year,' said Dr Myles Allen of Oxford University's Department of Physics and a co-author of the study.

At the Cancun conference, politicians will be discussing emission targets for 2020 and 2050 with the aim of limiting global warming to not more than two degrees Celsius. The new study found that setting targets for the peak rate of emission and total cumulative emissions to 2200 would be a much better way of framing an evidence-based policy for carbon dioxide emissions.

In an introduction to the special report, lead author Dr Mark New from the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University wrote: 'The 2009 Copenhagen Accord recognised the scientific view "that the increase in global temperatures should be below two degrees Celsius" despite growing views that this might be too high. At the same time, the continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions in the last decade, and the delays in a comprehensive global emissions reduction agreement, has made achieving this target extremely difficult, arguably impossible, raising the likelihood of global temperature rises of three or four degrees Celsius within this century. Yet there are few studies that assess the potential impacts and consequences of a warming of four degrees Celsius or greater in a systematic manner.'

Another study, led by Dr Fai Fung from the School of Geography and the Environment, has analysed the extent of water scarcity in some of the world's largest river basins in the next 50 years, if global mean temperatures rise by two or four degrees Celsius.

Even if global warming is limited to two degrees Celsius, the study suggests water supplies will dwindle in most river basins because of the increased demands for water from the world's growing populations. In a four degree Celsius world, impacts of climate change would become the biggest threat. Projections suggest that in a world that is two degrees warmer, river basins will become drier and some wetter. An increase of four degrees will amplify the changes even more.

The study also points out that the problem of water scarcity in most river basins will be made worse if warming proceeds more rapidly and large climate impacts coincide with a peak in world population.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Fai Fung, Ana Lopez, and Mark New. Water availability in 2C and 4C worlds. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, January 13, 2011 369:99-116 DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0293
  2. Mark New, Diana Liverman, Heike Schroder, and Kevin Anderson. Four degrees and beyond: the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and its implications. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, January 13, 2011 369:6-19 DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0303
  3. Niel H. A. Bowerman, David J. Frame, Chris Huntingford, Jason A. Lowe, and Myles R. Allen. Cumulative carbon emissions, emissions floors and short-term rates of warming: implications for policy. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, January 13, 2011 369:45-66 DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0288

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Worst case scenario: Can we adapt to a world 2 to 4 degrees warmer?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101129141119.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2010, November 30). Worst case scenario: Can we adapt to a world 2 to 4 degrees warmer?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101129141119.htm
University of Oxford. "Worst case scenario: Can we adapt to a world 2 to 4 degrees warmer?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101129141119.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) An Austrian balloon pilot has succeeded in taking a balloon deep underground, a feat which he believes is a world first. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Rescue crews finished recovering the remaining 27 bodies from atop Japan's Mount Ontake Monday. At least 31 people were killed Saturday in the mountain's first fatal volcanic event in modern history. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

AP (Sep. 27, 2014) A volcano erupted in central Japan on Saturday, sending a large plume of ash high into the sky and prompting a warning to climbers and others to avoid the area. (Sept. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
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