Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate commitment in an uncertain world

Date:
January 28, 2011
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
The planet will continue to warm, even if humans immediately cease all emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, mostly due to thermal inertia of the world's oceans. This has been of interest recently for both scientists and policy-makers, because it provides a measure of the minimum climate change the planet will face due to human activity that has already occurred.

The planet will continue to warm, even if humans immediately cease all emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, mostly due to thermal inertia of the world's oceans. This has been of interest recently for both scientists and policy-makers, because it provides a measure of the minimum climate change the planet will face due to human activity that has already occurred.

Several studies have looked at what would happen if human emissions of carbon dioxide were stopped, but these studies have overlooked the role of aerosols and other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, which Armour and Roe include in a new study. If human emissions stopped, atmospheric aerosols, which cool the planet by blocking light from the surface, would fall to preindustrial levels within weeks. However, other greenhouse gases would remain in the atmosphere for decades to centuries, and elevated levels of carbon dioxide would persist for millennia.

The authors find that the sudden loss of cooling from aerosols would cause abrupt warming of as much as 0.9 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) above current temperatures in the decades following the cessation of greenhouse gas emissions. This could be followed by slight cooling or by further increased warming. Because there are large uncertainties in current observations of aerosol radiative forcing, there are large uncertainties in determining the amount of climate changes to which the Earth is already committed.

The authors note that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's models produce a narrower range of climate commitment than is allowed by constraints based on current observations.

Although there is large uncertainty, the authors find that fundamental constraints provide lower and upper bounds on climate commitment. Given these bounds, if all human emission stopped immediately, Earth would still not return to pre-industrial temperatures in the indefinite future, and we could already be committed to dangerous levels of warming.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. C. Armour, G. H. Roe. Climate commitment in an uncertain world. Geophysical Research Letters, 2011; 38 (1) DOI: 10.1029/2010GL045850

Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "Climate commitment in an uncertain world." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110128095044.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2011, January 28). Climate commitment in an uncertain world. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110128095044.htm
American Geophysical Union. "Climate commitment in an uncertain world." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110128095044.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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