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Probabilistic projections of future warming and climate sensitivity trajectories

Probabilistic projections of future warming and climate sensitivity trajectories
Probabilistic projections of future warming and climate sensitivity trajectories
Projections of future global mean surface warming for a given forcing scenario remain uncertain, largely due to uncertainty in the climate sensitivity. The ensemble of Earth system models from the Climate Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6) represent the dominant tools for projecting future global warming. However, the distribution of climate sensitivities within the CMIP6 ensemble is not representative of recent independent probabilistic estimates, and the ensemble contains significant variation in simulated historic surface warming outside agreement with observational datasets. Here, a Bayesian approach is used to infer joint probabilistic projections of future surface warming and climate sensitivity for SSP scenarios. The projections use an efficient climate model ensemble filtered and weighted to encapsulate observational uncertainty in historic warming and ocean heat content anomalies. The probabilistic projection of climate sensitivity produces a best estimate of 2.9°C, and 5th to 95th percentile range of 1.5 to 4.6 °C, in line with previous estimates using multiple lines of evidence. The joint projection of surface warming over the period 2030 to 2040 has a 50% or greater probability of exceeding 1.5 °C above preindustrial for all SSPs considered: 119, 126, 245, 370 and 585. Average warming by the period 2050 to 2060 has a greater than 50% chance of exceeding 2°C for SSPs 245, 370 and 585. These results imply that global warming is no longer likely to remain under 1.5°C, even with drastic and immediate mitigation, and highlight the importance of urgent action to avoid exceeding 2°C warming.
2634-4068
Goodwin, Philip
87dbb154-5c39-473a-8121-c794487ee1fd
Goodwin, Philip
87dbb154-5c39-473a-8121-c794487ee1fd

Goodwin, Philip (2021) Probabilistic projections of future warming and climate sensitivity trajectories. Oxford Open Climate Change, 1 (1). (doi:10.1093/oxfclm/kgab007).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Projections of future global mean surface warming for a given forcing scenario remain uncertain, largely due to uncertainty in the climate sensitivity. The ensemble of Earth system models from the Climate Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6) represent the dominant tools for projecting future global warming. However, the distribution of climate sensitivities within the CMIP6 ensemble is not representative of recent independent probabilistic estimates, and the ensemble contains significant variation in simulated historic surface warming outside agreement with observational datasets. Here, a Bayesian approach is used to infer joint probabilistic projections of future surface warming and climate sensitivity for SSP scenarios. The projections use an efficient climate model ensemble filtered and weighted to encapsulate observational uncertainty in historic warming and ocean heat content anomalies. The probabilistic projection of climate sensitivity produces a best estimate of 2.9°C, and 5th to 95th percentile range of 1.5 to 4.6 °C, in line with previous estimates using multiple lines of evidence. The joint projection of surface warming over the period 2030 to 2040 has a 50% or greater probability of exceeding 1.5 °C above preindustrial for all SSPs considered: 119, 126, 245, 370 and 585. Average warming by the period 2050 to 2060 has a greater than 50% chance of exceeding 2°C for SSPs 245, 370 and 585. These results imply that global warming is no longer likely to remain under 1.5°C, even with drastic and immediate mitigation, and highlight the importance of urgent action to avoid exceeding 2°C warming.

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Accepted/In Press date: 15 July 2021
e-pub ahead of print date: 23 July 2021
Published date: 21 September 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 450618
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/450618
ISSN: 2634-4068
PURE UUID: 20410f57-af66-4005-8934-f3ac3f285a55
ORCID for Philip Goodwin: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2575-8948

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Date deposited: 05 Aug 2021 16:31
Last modified: 01 Apr 2022 01:44

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