Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate change: Fast out of the gate, slow to the finish the gate

Date:
September 30, 2013
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Research has focused on the amount of global warming resulting from increased greenhouse gas concentrations. But there has been relatively little study of the pace of the change following these increases. A new study concludes that about half of the warming occurs within the first 10 years after an instantaneous step increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration, but about one-quarter of the warming occurs more than a century after the step increase.

In response to an instantaneous increase in greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is fast out of the starting gate but then slows down, and takes a long time to approach the finish line.
Credit: Pink Badger / Fotolia

A great deal of research has focused on the amount of global warming resulting from increased greenhouse gas concentrations. But there has been relatively little study of the pace of the change following these increases. A new study by Carnegie's Ken Caldeira and Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures concludes that about half of the warming occurs within the first 10 years after an instantaneous step increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration, but about one-quarter of the warming occurs more than a century after the step increase. Their work is published in Environmental Research Letters.

Related Articles


The study was the result of an unusual collaboration of a climate scientist, Ken Caldeira, who contributed to the recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and Nathan Myhrvold, the founder and CEO of a technology corporation, Intellectual Ventures LLC. It is the third paper on which they have collaborated

The study brings together results from the majority of the world's leading climate models. Caldeira and Myhrvold analyzed more than 50 climate simulations, which were performed using 20 different climate models for the Climate Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5).

They found a fairly high degree of consensus on the general character of the pace of climate change. In response to an instantaneous increase in greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is fast out of the starting gate but then slows down, and takes a long time to approach the finish line.

There is substantial quantitative disagreement among climate models, however. For example, one model reaches 38 percent of the maximum warming in the first decade after a step increase in CO2 concentration, while another model reaches 61 percent of the maximum warming in this time period. Similarly, one model reaches only 60 percent of maximum warming in the first century after the step increase, while another achieves 86 percent of maximum warming during this interval.

There is also substantial uncertainty in the ultimate amount of warming that would result from any given increase in atmospheric CO2 content. The most sensitive model predicts more than twice as much warming as the least-sensitive model.

Uncertainty in the amount of warming combines with uncertainty in the pace of warming. From an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric CO2 content from the pre-industrial base level, some models would project 2C (3.6F) of global warming in less than a decade while others would project that it would take more than a century to achieve that much warming.

"While there is substantial uncertainty in both the pace of change and the ultimate amounts of warming following an increase in greenhouse gas concentration," Caldeira said, "there is little uncertainty in the basic outlook. If we continue increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations with emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and gas, the Earth will continue to get hotter. If we want the Earth to stop getting hotter, we have to stop building things with smokestacks and tailpipes that emit CO2 into the atmosphere."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. K Caldeira, N P Myhrvold. Projections of the pace of warming following an abrupt increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Environmental Research Letters, 2013; 8 (3): 034039 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034039

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Climate change: Fast out of the gate, slow to the finish the gate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130930121831.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2013, September 30). Climate change: Fast out of the gate, slow to the finish the gate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130930121831.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Climate change: Fast out of the gate, slow to the finish the gate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130930121831.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. 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